BY ANTHONY RIETH, GREEN BAY FWCO
The Mills Fleet Farm Outdoors show is a two-day event held inside the beautiful Lambeau Field Atrium. Held in both the spring and fall, the sports show hosts a wide assortment of seminars given by professional hunter and fisher men and women. Pro-staffers for a variety of outdoors companies, guides, and general vendors are present with information on gear and equipment and several companies offer products at steeply discounted prices. All of these great attractions bundled together often leads to a very high turnout of attendees of all ages.
The Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) staff were excited to once again provide an informative booth. Over the course of Friday, April 6th and Saturday, April 7th, approximately 10,000 attendees were on hand, with a majority of those attendees filtering past the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Booth. Service employees educated the public on aquatic invasive species, native fish restoration, salmonid mass marking, and answered numerous questions from interested and concerned individuals about our unique natural resources. Many individuals found the work being performed by the Service very exciting. Service employees were often thanked for doing a great job at keeping Lake Michigan healthy and dozens of informational packets, fish ID cards, and fish stickers were distributed to kids and adults alike. The Mills Fleet Farm Outdoors Show is a great venue for the USFWS to promote the important work that we do to increase and protect the valuable recreational opportunities and unique ecosystem within Lake Michigan and we look forward to attending again in the future.
BY BRANDON FALISH, CARTERVILLE FWCO WILMINGTON, IL SUBSTATION
As we enter into spring time, many of us foragers start to get excited about searching for one of nature’s most elusive items in the forest, Morchella esculenta, more commonly known as the common morel. These are some of the most sought after mushrooms in the world. So, what makes them so special? Other than their delectable taste, they have an incredibly short growing season due to the very specific conditions they require to grow. Due to those specific conditions they tend to be difficult to find. Hopefully this article will make morel hunting easier.
Morels only grow for about two-four weeks in any given area so timing is crucial. A good indicator of when to start looking is once the trees in an area start budding (usually March to June depending on geographical location). Generally, mushrooms will start developing the fruiting body once soil temperatures reach between 45-50°F. Additionally, air temperature should be around 60°F during the day and 40°F at night. However, they will not start fruiting until they have received the appropriate amount of hydration. Once the desired temperature has been reached you then need a rainfall. Once you have both of these requirements the search begins. However, too much moisture can be a bad thing so knowing the proper location and soil type is also important. The best soil type is loam with a mixture of sand, clay, and decaying plant matter which allows for good drainage but also keeps soil moist. Sun is also a major component as areas that are too thick may not provide enough sunlight. South facing slopes are usually a good place to start looking early in the growing season due to the prolonged sun light. Knowing your trees can also be very helpful when looking for morels. They are commonly found by elm and ash trees, however, poplar and apple trees can be good too. Morels grow primarily in two ways: by the death of an ectomycorrhizal organism, such as an ash tree, or from a major forest disturbance like a fire. They also tend to grow in groups so if you find one be sure to keep your eyes peeled as others are usually lurking nearby.
Morels can be hard to find but the reward is worth the effort. The good news is, once you find them they tend to come back near the same spots annually. This article contains good information to get you started on your hunt for the elusive morels. Morels can be found nearly anywhere and have even been found in the gravel so keep your eyes open at all times because you never know when you might stumble across some of nature’s tasty treats.