2021 NAMA Foray - Grandby, Colorado (by )

2021 NAMA Foray

I was fortunate to be able to attend the annual North American Mycological Association (NAMA) foray that was held at a beautiful YMCA camp just outside of Granby, Colorado from August 12th through the 15th. This camp is located in the traditional summer residential valley of several native American tribes, the Utes, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne among others.

For those unfamiliar with this NAMA event, it is held at a different location every year, always selected for a time and place where mushrooms are, or at least should be, coming up. This year, contrary to several past years, the selected location had extensive mushrooms, that is if you were over 10,000’ in elevation. The seasonal monsoon conditions favored several southwestern states this year, including Colorado, at least over 10,000’. Every afternoon we were treated to those showy cumulonimbus clouds rolling in accompanied by thunder and lightning. Our last night there we even had a prolonged shower at the camp. It was good to see rain again!

This annual foray is a great experience to visit other parts of North America to meet like-minded people and see the mushrooms of that area. Many forays are always held, a full team of sorters and identification experts is on-hand to put names on things and each year, examples of all the mushrooms found are described and vouchered. This year the foray was attended by over 250 people, many that were friends that I’ve made over several past forays. It was great to reacquaint with old friends and make some new ones. Just like our local forays, attendees to the NAMA forays are friendly, easy to talk to and pleasant to be around.

For me, the draw for these foray is always the mushrooms. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the wide variety of different mushrooms in different parts of the world. As such, I went out on every opportunity there was to sign up. There were daily all day and four to six half day trips each day so there was ample opportunity to visit different habitat. It is always pleasing and somewhat surprising how many things I recognize. I typically recognize most things I see at least to genus. Even things that appear to be a species I recognize, I am unwilling to try to put a species name on them. I’ve been wrong too many times. Many familiar genera were found: Amanita, Russula, Lactarius, Hebaloma, Suillus, Hygrophorus,

Albatrellus, Leccinum, many Cortinarius, etc. A total of just over 150 species were identified and vouchered. While the tables holding the finds from each foray were sagging under the numbers found, many were repeats. The most collected species for the trip was the familiar Amanita muscaria (variety flavivolvata).

I had heard reports that a species I was looking forward to finding was abundant this year: the famed red-capped porcini of the Rockies, Boletus rubriceps. And yes it was. They were big, beautiful, bountiful and bug-free (for the most part). I estimate that I picked over 20 pounds. After the foray, I met my cousin who lives fairly close so I was able to donate them to his dwindling stash of dried boletes. I’ve been told that that species is the best tasting of all the different porcini species. After having them several different ways, I can report that I found them no better or no worse than our local king boletes. In other words, delicious!

As the NAMA Trustee for the Central Pacific Region, liaison to NAMA for 12 local clubs, I attended the board meeting where the business of running a national organization was conducted. In many ways it is quite the same as what I’ve been part of for the FFSC for the past 35+ years. One decision made at that meeting is that the location for next year’s foray will be in the Missouri hills.

In addition to the numerous collecting trips at the foray, there is always a variety of excellent presentations available to attend every day. Every evening there are several talks given to the entire assembly of attendees. One of the more interesting ones I heard was a talk on “burn morels.” As someone who makes several trips every year to our burn sites in CA, I was curious to see what he had to say. Instead of just driving up to a burn area to scope it out, he presented ways of using current technology to do scouting from a distance. He used burn maps, topo maps to judge steepness and orientation (north-facing slopes versus south, etc.), aerial photography to judge canopy cover, rainfall maps to judge moisture content and timing, and other maps to judge access roads. This guy had it down to a science! He showed the anticipated pictures of mountains of morels and even one that he took of someone’s haul that had been confiscated by the authorities for some reason. He ended the talk with the statement that he can’t eat morels. That brought down the house.

As I have had in the past, I had a great time, learned a few new species and renewed some friendships. I’m looking forward to Missouri. You should consider joining me!!

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