Jenny Neyman/KDLL

It was morel mushroom mania on the Kenai Peninsula last summer. The 2019 Swan Lake Fire left behind perfect conditions for the brown-capped mushrooms to grow, including in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which saw a large portion of the burn.

The second year after a burn is never as good as the first, morel-wise. But there’s still hope for mushroom hunters this summer.

Morel season just about to heat up in Swan Lake burn

May 14, 2020
Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Last year, the Swan Lake Fire took away a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities across the western Kenai Peninsula. But, like many wildfires, it leaves behind a gift: morel mushrooms.

“After wildland fire, you end up with the conditions that are kind of ripe for welcoming morel mushrooms. We’ve had really large fires on the Kenai Peninsula in the past that have been very productive with morels,” said Leah Eskelin, park ranger for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Morels, which grow across northern climates and have conical, brown caps, are highly sought after by mushroom hunters. Why? They can’t be bought commercially, and they’re delicious. They’re also notoriously hard to find.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

High tunnels can mean high yields for Kenai Peninsula crops. Rupert Scribner with Kenai Feed tells us how to avoid high stress by installing them correctly. Then, kids at Soldotna Montessori have the dirt on what it takes to grow good gardeners. Finally, May is morel mushroom season on the central Kenai Peninsula. Dr.  George Spady shares tips for finding fungi on the forest floor.