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Short season predicted for morel pickers in hot dry NWT 2 Tuesday May 26 2015 INDUSTRY MOREL HARVEST NEWS BRIEFS Alberta imports 126 Ontario wildland firefighters Tinder-dryconditionshaveledtoastrongearlystarttothe reseasoninAlberta.Toghttheblazesabout1300reght- ers 126 from Ontario have been deployed in the province. Two water tankers from Quebec have also been recruited. With 29 simultaneous wildres burning as of May 25 the province has imposed a re ban. Since Apr. 1 Alberta has recorded a total of 629 wildres which have burned more than 13098 hectares of land. Stranded traveler near Lutsel Ke rescued by RCMP RCMPoftheSouthSlavebandedtogethertoconductasuc- cessful search and rescue early last week. Police in Lutsel Ke received a report about a 56 year-old man who had be- come stranded near Thubun River on May 19 several days after the man rst alerted his family via satellite phone of his situation. Lutsel Ke and Fort Resolution RCMP worked to determine the last known whereabouts of the male after his signal disappeared. With the assistance of Great Slave Helicopters rescue crews reached him in fair condition on May 20. Village of Fort Simpson ratifies collective agreement The Village of Fort Simpson ratied a new collective agreement with their employees last week. Members of the Union of Northern Workers have established a three- year agreement which provides for a wage increase of 2.25 per cent in each year of the agreement and a 2.25 per cent increase per year to vacation travel and hous- ing allowances. This replaces the previous agreement which expired about a year ago. The current agreement will expire Dec. 31 2016. By MEAGAN WOHLBERG Drought conditions across theNorthwestTerritoriesmean a morel mushroom harvest could be a ash in the pan of justafewweeksifnomoisture arrives in the form of rain. We have to be really clear while this is an opportunity thatsouttheretheresnoway wecanguaranteeanything.If we get the month of June in IllbereallyhappysaidJohn Colfordmanageroftraditional economyandagriculturewith the department of Indus- try Tourism and Investment ITIwhoisorganizingmorel harvesting workshops with Northern pickers across the territory should the coveted mushrooms begin to appear. A large bumper crop of morel mushrooms was an- ticipated to follow last years recordwildreseasonwhich torethrough3.5millionhect- ares of forest in the territory leaving behind prime habitat fortheundergroundfungusto grow into the tasty wrinkled mushrooms that are sought internationally as delicacies. But with an absence of springrainsandnoprecipita- tioninsightforthenextcouple ofweeksColfordisexpecting ashortharvestingseasonifat alldependingontheweather andtheoccurrenceofpop-up resheldoverthewinterfrom last years intense burns. The way the weather is setting up this year is very similar to last year when there was a harvest of mo- rels in the Dehcho. I think we may have had a smatter- ing of rain between the start and the end he said. This year with a similar weather pattern I expect the same thing is going to take place where well probably trudge through the month of June. Local harvesters in the Dehcho region around Fort Simpson were aided by ITI ofcials in conducting their rstmassmushroompicklast summer following a massive burn there the year previous. That pick lasted from around May 20 to the end of June or ve to six weeks. Then we went bone dry and it just shriveled on the vine Colford said. Still harvesters werent disappointed with the length of the season. Local pick- ers earned an estimated 650000inharvestedmush- rooms in 2014 sold to south- ern buyers who made the trip to the NWT to access some of the economic benets. Similar benefits are ex- pected this year in areas around Jean Marie River Kakisa Fort Providence Be- hchoko and up into the Tli- cho region where res raged last summer though many of those areas are currently the driest in the territory. the walking workshops. The challenge of doing the walk- ing workshops is that you need the star of the show to be there. Thoughcurrentpredictions see morels showing up in the southern part of the territory and moving their way north- wardaroundGreatSlaveLake throughout June just when - and if - the mushrooms show up is uncertain. We have no control over Mother Nature. Unfortu- nately Mother Natures going to do what Mother Nature wants to do Colford said. But I am somewhat con- dent were going to get the month of June. AlreadyITIhasmushroom expertsstationedoutatKakisa wherethemorelsareexpected to pop up rst. According to messages coming in from the eldthereisevidenceofbaby marble-sized morels on the forest oor. Everyone is now waiting for them to develop into egg sized mushrooms that can be picked hopefully by early this week. The ITI experts will then leadlocalpickersoutonmorel walking tours to teach them the proper harvesting tech- niques to ensure they can prot from their hard work. We are being as impatient as everybody else standing there tapping our foot say- ingWhereareyouColford said with a laugh. As soon as I get the word that weve got morels we will formally start Morels in park limited to Aboriginal personal harvest While much of Wood Buf- falo National Park WBNP burned last summer com- mercial pickers will not bene- t from a bumper crop within the park boundaries. Parks Canada put out a reminder last week that har- vesting morel mushrooms in the park is restricted to per- sonal use by local Aborigi- nal residents only and that all commercial harvesting is prohibited. Aboriginal people who re- side in communities within 80 km of WBNP will be able to pick for personal use. Parks Canada will be post- ing signs along the park boundary to keep pickers in the legal harvesting areas. Wehavetobereallyclearwhilethisis an opportunity thats out there theres no way we can guarantee anything. John Colford Industry Tourism Investment PhotoRielStevenson-Burke Morels dry in the Dehcho during last summers harvest. GNWT ofcials expect this season to be similar to last short due to a lack of rain but hopefully sweet. Harvesters in the Dehcho last year earned around 650000.