BC mushroom foraging regulations and laws aren’t always clear to people who are new to wild food harvesting. But you need to know what your rights are as a wild edible harvester in British Columbia to protect yourself and the local ecosystem we all love.
Wild edible mushroom foraging in British Columbia is increasingly popular with food enthusiasts and curious hobbyists. As people become more adventurous eaters, finding and eating wild edible mushrooms no longer seems so kooky or eccentric.
However, there’s a lot of confusion about where local mushroom foragers can harvest mushrooms and how they can do it – and many strangers aren’t scared to tell you whether they think you’re in the wrong, whether or not they’re actually correct.
Foraging responsibly means understanding the local regs and laws that apply to you.
This British Columbia wild mushroom harvesting regulations article covers:
- Where can I forage for wild mushrooms legally in British Columbia?
- Do I need to ask permission or get a permit to harvest wild mushrooms in BC?
- What areas are off-limits to wild mushroom foraging in BC?
- Can I forage for morels where BC forest fires or wildfires were located last year?
- What are the rules for accessing BC forest service roads (FSR) and British Columbia crown land?
Keep reading this article for a breakdown of the BC mushroom foraging regulations – updated for 2018/2019.
Where Can I Forage For Wild Mushrooms In British Columbia?
Wild mushroom foraging regulations for British Columbia divides land into three types:
- Areas that wild mushroom foraging is allowed in
- Areas that you need to get permission to harvest wild mushrooms in
- Areas that do not allow mushroom harvesting
You can find out which type of area you’re in by using the iMapBC app. The iMapBC app can be very frustrating to use, but it’s detailed, accurate, and maintained by the government. I haven’t had luck using it with the Chrome web browser, but alternative web browsers (Firefox, Safari, etc.) seem to work on a desktop computer or laptop.
If you’re in a rush or on your phone, you can also use Google Maps. The app isn’t the best option, as it can be inaccurate and may lack important information about private and permit-restricted areas, but it can give you a general idea of land use type and ownership.
(1) BC Areas Open to Wild Mushroom Foraging
You’re allowed to harvest wild mushrooms on provincial crown land without a permit or permission, as long as you’re not in a provincial or national park.
If you’re planning to harvest mushrooms on crown land open to picking, you should still be familiar with the locations of any nearby First Nations traditional territories and reserves, federal and provincial park borders, and off-limit areas to avoid potential legal and safety problems.
You don’t want to accidentally wander into areas where you’re not legally allowed to be in or harvest wild mushrooms illegally.
Be knowledgable about the area you’re harvesting in before you start picking!
(2) BC Areas Requiring Permission For Mushroom Harvesting
You need to get permission to pick wild mushrooms on:
- private land (owned by an individual, group of individuals, business, etc.)
- leased public land (dictated by a lease, license of occupation, or temporary license of occupation)
- First Nations reserve lands
The best way to get permission to harvest mushrooms on private land, leased public land, and First Nations reserve lands depends on the specific location you’d like to access and use.
For example, to access private land, you need to get explicit permission from the property owner(s) who own the land. If you need to find property owners’ contact information, you can contact the municipal office that oversees local property ownership, and they can direct you further.
In some First Nations reserve lands, you may be able to apply for a mushroom picking permit. For example, the Tŝilhqot’in National Government is providing select permits for mushroom harvesters in 2018 with defined areas open to foraging.
(3) Areas NOT OPEN For Mushroom Foraging in British Columbia
It is illegal to harvest or pick wild mushrooms in the following areas:
- national or provincial parks
- Department of National Defense lands
- protected areas, including ecological reserves or specific reserves
- recreational areas, including provincial recreation sites and trails
- areas specifically closed to protect sensitive resource values or closed for public safety
Wild mushrooms are essential to the health of local ecosystems. They break down trees and other organic matter, provide food for wildlife, and help our rich and complicated forests survive.
Please respect regulations that work to protect wild mushrooms ecosystems by only foraging mushrooms in BC areas that can support harvests.
Can I Forage For Morels Where BC Forest Fires Occurred?
Morel mushrooms may grow in the spring after a forest fire or wildfire occurred during the previous year, if the local conditions and weather allow for growth.
While BC crown land is open to mushroom harvesting (not including national or provincial parks), some areas may be temporarily closed for safety reasons.
Fire-affected areas can be dangerous for people to wander around in, even if the wildfire has been put out.
Former forest fire areas are vulnerable to water runoff, floods, rockfalls, falling trees, and damaged roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Some dangers may be more obvious than others, such as trees with damaged root systems that can fall without warning.
You should also try to avoid wildfire-affected areas that have been freshly seeded or planted, as they are sensitive to foot traffic and other accidental damage.
You should contact the local FrontCounter BC office to check that the specific wildfire areas you want to access is open to mushroom harvesters. The directory for local FrontCounterBC office is here, or you can call the toll-free phone number at 1-877-855-3222.
How to Access BC Forest Service Roads (FSR) and BC Crown Land
BC Forest Service Roads (FSR) are very different from carefully maintained city roads. FSR are helpful to access areas like BC crown land, but you need to know how to use them before you start driving on one.
Active Forest Service Roads (FSR) in BC
Active FSR are often unpaved, generally rougher, and usually require you to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle to drive along them easily.
FSR may have active logging occurring on them, so you need to stay alert and aware when driving on them.
Logging trucks and other support vehicles have the right of way on FSR because of how large they are and how difficult they are to manoeuvre. It’s always safer to yield to logging and industrial traffic.
The Government of BC recommends that you always drive with your headlights on in FSR and to be watchful of all hazards, including but not limited to hazards outlined on road signs.
FSR road conditions may change quickly and without warning. Roads may be deactivated, closed, or inaccessible that you think will be open. It’s always good to have a backup plan when you’re planning to use a FSR to access land.
Even if a FSR is technically active, you may find that there is a gate that appears to restrict vehicle access.
There may be several different reasons that a FSR is gated, including:
- FSR is on private land (requires permission to access from land owner)
- FSR is unsafe (do not pass)
- FSR access is restricted to protect wildlife
- To control livestock movement (leave the gate as you found it)
A gated FSR will usually have a sign that explains why a public road is closed to traffic.
If you need more information about FSR gates or closures, you can contact the local FrontCounterBC office using the online directory for local FrontCounterBC office is here or toll-free phone number at 1-877-855-3222.
Deactivated Forest Service Roads in BC
FSR may be deactivated to restrict public access and/or to reduce potential environment problems, such as to protect streams, wildlife habitat, or prevent erosion.
Deactivated roads are often marked by manmade cross-ditches, barriers, and other ways to make roads inaccessible to vehicles, even if they have four-wheel-drive.
Stick to active forest service roads and avoid deactivated roads. There’s probably a good reason for FSR to be deactivated, even if you don’t always know what or why it’s been temporarily closed to public access.
Using Off-Road Vehicles on BC FSR
If you’re driving an off-road vehicle on a BC Forest Service Road (FSR), you should familiarize yourself with the government regulations that oversee your vehicle here.