MAW holds at least a dozen mushroom forays each year. Once the weather warms, the foray frequency kicks in staring with spring morels, then summer chanterelles, onto fall hen-of-the-woods, and lots of other fascinating fungal finds from April until November. In late fall and winter there are usually a few outings focusing on tree or lichen identification.
Most forays last one to four hours and are held in local parks and forests, though some are as far away as Front Royal, Va., or southern Pennsylvania. Two or three times a year, MAW holds overnight weekend forays. At the annual Camp Sequanota weekend in September, we usually find and identify nearly 200 distinct species in one weekend!
To respond to current conditions, we generally schedule forays on short notice.
As a Covid-19 precaution, forays are being limited to small groups consistent with CDC guidelines for outdoor activities. To limit participation, forays are being announced to MAW members as "Events" . Advance registration is required to attend a foray (but free). After the participation limit has been reached, you can join a waiting list, and will receive an automated notice if space becomes available. Only MAW members will receive emails with information for each foray.
The purpose of MAW-sponsored forays is educational – to teach you how to recognize the distinguishing characteristics of mushrooms in their habitat, with the guidance of expert identifiers. Collecting for the table is not the purpose of most forays.
Public parks often have restrictions designed to protect the habitat, and by their general terms, these restrictions may be interpreted to prohibit mushroom collecting. MAW policy is to discourage violation of established park rules and avoid confrontations where the rules are uncertain. Foray leaders will not act as enforcers of park rules, but if you should decide to collect mushrooms (or anything else) in such areas, you are on your own in terms of dealing with local authorities and possible fines.
Regardless of park policy, we discourage all collection methods that disturb the ecology of an area (or the mycelium of a particular fungus). However, disturbance of individual fruiting bodies is generally not harmful to the fungus itself or the larger ecosystem. As we understand it, picking a specimen mushroom and turning it over to examine it for identification and study on site would not be a violation of any park rules that prohibit collecting.
Consistent with the foregoing, some of our forays are designated as "identification only" and others as "collection discretion advised."
Identification only will be used when it is certain that a particular park has clear rules against collection that we understand represent a considered policy that is enforced by the park rangers. Rock Creek Park is a good example: the park has a clear policy that nothing can be removed from the park. MAW members should be aware that the fine for collecting mushrooms in Rock Creek Park can be $500 or more.
Collection discretion advised is for instances where the administrative policy regarding collecting is somewhat uncertain. We may have had encounters with park authorities in that or a related park in the past that left us with an impression that there may be an issue.
If you are aware of areas that look like good places for MAW forays, please send an email to email@example.com so we can investigate further. MAW is particularly interested in connecting with private landowners who have an interest in knowing what fungi is growing on their property, and who would be willing to allow MAW collection forays as a way to help them learn about what they have.