A Morel Dilemma

Morel, by Karl Hassel

It is that season again, one that many in Central Ohio and all over the Midwest for that matter, anxiously await.  It’s not fishing season, or deer, or even turkey.  It is morel season.  That’s right. Mushroom season.  And to morel hunters, it is a special time of year, walking the woods searching for the elusive tasty morsel hidden on the forest floor, blending in so well with the leaf litter.  Good morel spots are highly coveted and protected secrets.    People might tell you where they catch their fish, or shoot their deer, but not where they picked their morels.  You may get someone’s pin for their ATM card before their prized morel spot.

So what’s the dilemma?  Finding a place to hunt morels of course!

While there are many places in Metro Parks that are suitable habitats for morel mushrooms, unfortunately it is against Metro Parks Rules and Regulations to pick mushrooms.  Metro Parks Rules and Regulations 1.1 states, “Persons shall utilize any Park in such a way as not to injure, deface, destroy, or remove any tree, flower, shrub, or other vegetation, or fruit or seed thereof…”.  When Rangers enforce this rule, they often hear, “you are just keeping them for yourself.”  While many of our Rangers enjoy a morel as much as the next person, the rule is not in place for us to “keep them for ourselves.”  In fact, penalties for staff members violating this rule, can actually be terms for dismissal.  While many of us Metro Parks employees enjoy morels, none of us enjoy them so much as to jeopardize our job.  We at Metro Parks are charged with protecting the parks, and those habitats within them, and those creatures living in them.  This includes the morel, and all the wild critters that may eat them.

However, Metro Parks likes to give options whenever we can.  In this case, the only option to hunt for morels is at the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Public Hunting Area.  You can obtain a map of the public hunting area at the Ranger Station in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area or by contacting the ranger on duty.