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Pricey Permits 

Editor:

I read, with keen interest, your Nov. 17 Blogthing regarding matsutake mushroom gathering. It made me wonder if the Six Rivers NF cappo bothered to read the law they cite to justify charging a Mafia-esque $200 fee for gathering forest fungi.

I read the law (FSH 2409.18, Chapter 80), and several points came to mind. The law states there needs to be a valuation of the mushrooms to establish a fee. What valuation did they use to come up with $200 for personal use? It seems that number came from appraising the budget needs of 6RNF programs (which, as taxpayers, we've already paid for).

Ms. Ranieri states the $200 fee "has in part to do with a new forest botanical products law that requires charging fees for botanical product collection." In fact, the law states that "A Regional Forester or Forest Supervisor ... may waive all or a portion of the collection of fees." Nowhere does it say the fee is required.

The law also says, "The value should not exceed an amount that would provide more than what a person would reasonably use for personal use." In light of this, two C notes seems excessive. And, "when supply is not limited and value is low, free use of special forest products may be granted to individuals for personal use, which may include customary and traditional uses by rural residents for direct personal or family consumption."

Last I checked, we are rural residents who consume matsutake mushrooms with our families.
Ms. Ranieri further stated the fee would be used to finance its botanical products program. If this program is intended to perform an environmental analysis or inventory of mushrooms, fuhgettaboudit -- that information already exists in multiple timber sale EA's the Forest Service has produced for decades. And monitoring of forest fungus is ongoing by the mushroom-collecting public, who are, after all, stakeholders.

The Six Rivers National Forest needs to revisit this issue and follow its own law by collaborating with the public to manage botanicals. It would go a long way in putting the "service" back into Forest Service.

Mark Dondero, Orleans

 
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