Updated: Nov 13
Believe it or not, there are very few places in the state of California where foraging on public land is legal. Almost all national, state, regional, and even some local parks prohibit foraging ("leave no trace" is the general rule of thumb). Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County is one of the handful of places where one can legally pick mushrooms--with a permit. Since I see a lot of Mendocino locals and visitors alike with questions regarding this process, I thought I would put together a short blog with information, instructions, and helpful links.
To start, I would recommend clicking here for the: Jackson Demonstration State Forest Website (Scroll down to "Recreation Maps and Permits".)
You will find the following information:
As you can see, the website reads: "all permits by mail only at this time."
Here is the mail-in application: Cal Fire Mushroom Permit
Review the application carefully. Everything you need to know is in the application.
Here are a few at-a-glance tips to know:
You cannot retrieve or submit your application in person. You can only print it at home, and submission is "mail-in only". You must allow 10-14 days for processing (as Mendocino Coast residents, it took one week to receive our permit by mail).
You cannot pay the $20 fee with cash. Payment can be made by check or money order only. You will also be asked to include a pre-stamped return envelope.
You cannot collect mushrooms until you receive your permit, even if you have already mailed in the payment.
The permit is nontransferable and is only issued to an individual. If multiple members of a family are going to be picking mushrooms, each person must have their own paid permit with them.
Annual permits all expire on June 30 every year, regardless of when you paid for it.
There is no daily limit for gathering using this permit.
After you have sent your $20 payment, pre-stamped return envelope, and application, you will actually receive two papers in return within 10-14 days:
1. one paper permit to keep on your person while foraging and
2. one paper permit to put on your vehicle dashboard
Here is what the vehicle permit looks like:
The permit you will keep on your person during foraging sessions is an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper that will list all of your personal information on it, as well as the guidelines for how to use it.
If you have any addition questions, you should reach out to Cal Fire directly at 707-964-5674.
This blog was lasted updated on October 25, 2023. It is a foragers responsibility to follow rules accordingly. Please be sure to closely review the JDSF website and Cal Fire Permit links, above. Thank you!