Dakota County volunteers blitz through forest for mushrooms

Volunteers helped collect fungi specimens during Dakota County's first MycoBlitz event at Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

A new event providing important ecological information has sprouted in Dakota County.

On Aug. 5, 45 volunteers joined Dakota County Parks staff and the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum for the County’s first MycoBlitz, an event to document and collect specimens of fungi in Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Volunteers met at the Visitor Center for a presentation on the critical ecological roles fungi play in forests, and then ventured across the park to document mushrooms and made notes about where they were growing and what trees were nearby.

Volunteers collected more than 200 mushrooms, and 110 specimens representing about 90 species were submitted to the Bell Museum mycological collection for further study. These are new biological records for Dakota County, and these collections will help scientists and managers track the distribution of these fungi. This activity also informed the current drafting of the Lebanon Hills Regional Park Natural Resource Management Plan to better understand the woodlands in Lebanon Hills.

Fungi are considered the unsung heroes of forest ecology. Some fungi are critical for the survival of trees by providing nutrients in exchange for sugars. Other fungi break down woody debris left by fallen trees, conditioning the soil for new tree growth.

Future annual MycoBlitz events are planned to document the fungi in all Dakota County Parks.

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