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Idaho’s Hot, Dry Summer Brings a Huckleberry Bounty

PHOTO: Huckleberries near McCall, Idaho. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
PHOTO: Huckleberries near McCall, Idaho. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
August 9, 2012

McCALL, Idaho - There's a sweet benefit to Idaho's hot, dry summer. Huckleberries, along with thimbleberries, serviceberries and hawthorn berries, are putting out bumper crops in the backcountry.

Foraging expert and herbalist Darcy Williamson in McCall says it's the most berries she's seen in 25 years.

"The berries this year are phenomenal because we had the wet spring and then hot summer, without a frost. Should be some very fat bears going into fall."

Berries aren't the only bounty from Idaho forests. Williamson says there are many medicinal resources, and she's keeping an eye on those because some are at risk if the dry spell continues.

"Right now we're concerned, as herbalists, about the fall rains, because we need a fall rain to bring out the medicinal mushrooms in the autumn."

The berry-mania led to the Forest Service issuing an advisory after receiving reports about people cutting huckleberry bushes to make it easier to pluck the fruit. That action could bring a $5,000 fine. Cutting the bushes ruins future fruit, and the plants die if cut to the ground.

A huckleberry-picking notice from the Forest Service is online at fs.fed.us.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID