In 2014, CUSP's Northern Watershed coordinator, and one colleague began growing native mushrooms in a lab and training it to eat wood waste. The hope was that strains could be developed that would eat specific waste materials left behind by forest mitigation projects in the Colorado mountains. The risk of fire hangs over every forested acre in Colorado, and the need to reduce forest fuels is great. Any technique that could save time and money in treating our over grown, and under nourished forests is badly needed.
In the spring of 2015, 2 strains were released on test plots at an elevation of 8449 ft. Within the first year, these mushrooms munched their way through the nearly indigestible wood chips, and a new technique for forest restoration became, at least: plausible.
The original mushrooms are still there, still eating, but the study needs desperately to expand. Costly labs test are needed to substantiate the findings on the ground. Mass production is needed with 5 new candidate species for larger tests to commence in 2017. This funding will provide both, and help continue our serious investigation of this important topic. Our needs are humble, but the rewards are potentially great.