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Mushroom camps spring up, but matsutakes don't

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CHEMULT, Ore. (AP) — Camps for mushroom pickers are springing up in the woods on the east side of the Cascade Range. The prized matsutake mushrooms aren't, though. It's been too dry.

Pickers went out scouting ahead of the season that is just getting underway, said Walt Boles, who manages a camp near Chemult.

"They're not finding any mushrooms right now. It's going to be hard, from what I understand," he told the Klamath Falls Herald and News for a story published Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1nwv1VU ).

The camps for mushroom harvesters feature dwellings of steel frames with plywood and blue tarp coverings. They have indoor cook stoves, refrigerators and even portable garden containers with fresh herbs.

Pickers stay until heavy snow falls or the season ends Nov. 2.

Some pickers said the season is similar to last year's, when the region also suffered from drought, but they are hoping things improve as fall progresses.

"If it's too dry, then it might be a few weeks," said picker Joy Mani of Raymond, Washington.

The large, aromatic mushrooms fetch good prices in the marketplace, but Mani said the expense of using vehicles to search for them can cost $40 to $50 a day or more, when finding 4 pounds can be difficult.

"It's challenging," she said. "Some people make money; some people lose money. Some people go home broke because they are driving all day. It's not easy like everybody thinks."

Mani said she's hoping prices stay between $20 and $25 but that profit isn't everything.

"I came here for a break, too; so whether I make money or not, I enjoy doing it," Mani said.

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Information from: Herald and News, http://www.heraldandnews.com

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