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A particularly warm and dry spring and summer are triggering an earlier huckleberry season this year.
The Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review is reporting that huckleberry pickers are filling Inland Northwest slopes "in droves." Most huckleberries, native to the northwestern United States, grow wild, particularly in national and state parks, They typically require elevations between 2,000 and 11,000 feet and thrive in acidic mountain soil. Huckleberries are also known to grow in lower elevation patches near bodies of water.
"Huckleberry picking is serious business for a lot of people," Jay Kirchner, spokesman for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, told the Spokesman-Review. "It's a fun way to connect with the land."
In addition to Idaho's Panhandle, Gem State pickers traditionally grab fistfuls of huckleberries in and around Ponderosa State Park in McCall.
Asta Bowen, author of The Huckeberry Book: All About the West's Most Treasured Beauty, told the the Spokesman-Review that last winter's thin snowpack should give this summer's berries "a more intense flavor" since they hold less water.