Morel Mania Begins
We are excited to officially release our 2021 burn morel maps! These maps detail forest fires from the huge 2020 fire season that are promising for burn morels. The West had a tough year of burns, especially Colorado, California and Oregon.
With millions of acres burned last season, the inspection and curation process was incredibly time consuming. I think this motived me to get started early, I’ve been super focused and we are ready! This February 12th maps release is the earliest yet.
There is a lot of good news for fire morel hunters in 2021, here is a state by state rundown:
Oregon is hands-down the most promising state with nine fires rated as “A” totaling about 1,400 square miles of territory. It has 5 fires over 200 acres with some of the big ones south of Mount Hood and East of Salem, conveniently close to Portland. There is ample territory available at lower elevations promising a great April and May.
Colorado is the second-most promising state with five “A” rated fires totaling nearly 1,000 square miles with three fires over 275 square miles. Let’s hope for rain!
California had fires from top to bottom last year. However, we only rated two fires as “A” fires covering over 750 square miles. Don’t fret, there are many many “B” rated fires across the state which will most certainly carry nice pockets of burn morels if it rains.
Arizona seems to have good morel fires every year but is heavily dependent on seasonal rains. This year, three fires were rated as “A” covering 340 square miles. They are widely distributed around the state.
Washington didn’t burn as hard as its southern neighbors last year. It has 3 “A” rated fires covering over 600 square miles.
Idaho seems to be a perennial hot-spot for burn morels. 2021 is no different with 7 “A” rated fires and 550+ acres covered by them.
Wyoming and New Mexico both have one “A” rated burn.
Utah contains all fires. Ratings coming soon.
States with no A Fires: Montana, Nevada, South Dakota
Alaska fires are mapped, but do not provide ratings because we haven’t learned enough about the habitat and local morel tendencies.
A few disclaimers:
- We do the best we can with what we know! Some locales are less familiar than others. California for instance is a state where we have less direct knowledge. If you see something we missed, please let us know. We include a map of every burn in every state, so you can dig deeper beyond our shortened “curated maps” if you wish.
- We don’t look for exceptions, we seek abundance. Morels are fickle and ironic. They can be found in all kinds of weird places. We are focused on what we think are the best and most likely places to pick when we rate fires. I love it when our subscribers contact us and advise me that I missed something! Please don’t hesitate to reach out – [email protected]
This year I added something new to the maps. Because I found about 10 fires around the country that are especially excellent, and also quite HUGE, I gave them some special treatment. These extras are still in the works and targeted for completion by the end of February.
I created “focus” pages on each fire with extra maps to help you research the big burns, which can be quite a daunting task. Inside each fire I focused on one (or 2 or 3) special areas, typically 3-6 square miles, where the territory is especially enticing. I selected areas that had easy road access, above average trees/forest cover, and gradients below 25% so they wouldn’t be too steep. Of course morels love steep territory… my legs, not so much.
I hope this will help the beginner cut through all the information and data and give them a good place to start. For the expert, we have some additional maps you may find interesting for some of the fires:
- Gradient Maps with different elevations indicated by color gradients, making it easier to evaluate elevation changes. I use this to visually locate large flat areas too.
- Private/Public Land Maps. These maps delineate private from public land to help you navigate to zones where you can pick legally.
- Additional Topo and Road Maps from some different providers with alternative road information to help you locate roads in the burn
- Tree Maps are on some of the burns, especially states like Colorado where we have tree types that change and can affect fruitings.
Year Two Burns
How long after a burn do morels grow? As most people know, the best fruiting happen the first year after a fire. However, as we learn more and talk to other hunters, it is clear that year two and even three can be productive. This is especially true if the burn didn’t fruit in the first year.
We include maps to the last 2 or 3 years in our package. With the epic droughts in places like Colorado, Arizona and California last year, it might be worth revisiting those maps. We will certainly be looking into two year old burns this year in Colorado because they just did not fruit last year.
Questions? Let’s connect – you may reach Trent directly at [email protected].