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Workshop to hunt for mushrooms

— The quest for the shaggy manes is on again.

Bill Emerson of Steamboat Springs will lead a two-day workshop Saturday and Sunday entitled “The Hunt for the Wild Mushroom.” Based on the short walks he has taken with his dog every morning this week, Emerson is confident he can lead his class to some edible mushrooms.

“The shaggy manes are coming up everywhere,” Emerson said. “I take a bag with me every morning when I walk my dog on the Sanctuary trail.”



The workshop includes two hours of classroom lectures and slideshows Saturday and four or five hours in the field Sunday. Yampatika hosts the workshop.

Yampatika’s Karen Vail said Emerson has agreed to pinch hit on this weekend’s mushroom workshop. It originally was scheduled Aug. 19 and 20 with Rob Reinsvold of the University of Northern Colorado. But Reinsvold injured his knee and couldn’t conduct the field trip.



Vail said Emerson is fully qualified to identify some of the edible mushrooms in the forests surrounding Steamboat.

“That’s the whole purpose of the workshop,” Vail said. “We want people to feel more confident going out on their own. If people come to us with mushrooms and have questions, Bill is the person we send them to.”

Emerson is a retired biochemist and physician. He said that although he can confidently help people identify a handful of edible mushrooms, he doesn’t take any chances.

“There’s only a handful I’ll eat. The rest I won’t because it’s too dangerous. There are no antidotes (for poisonous mushrooms),” he said. “I teach people to be smart and safe. Sometimes people come up to me and ask, ‘Can I eat this mushroom?’ I say, ‘You can eat it once.'”

Emerson said his interest in the fungus of the forest goes beyond the saute pan. He searches out mushrooms like other people look for species of wildflowers they haven’t seen before.

“It’s really fun to get out and observe all of the different mushrooms,” he said. “There are thousands in this area.”

Accordingly, Emerson said he will give people who attend the workshop beginning skills to identify different classes of mushrooms and an understanding of their anatomy and life cycles.

Typically, chanterelles are among the most sought-after local mushrooms in August. Emerson said they are a little difficult to find right now.

“Some people are coming back with one or two, and others are bringing home a bag full,” he said.

Chanterelles or no chanterelles, Emerson will always remember the summer of 2006.

“I have bags of dried boletes (boletus mushrooms) all over my kitchen,” he said. “It was a fantastic season.”

Interested people can sign up for this weekend’s workshop by calling Yampatika at 871-9151.

– To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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