Arboreal Lichen Collections Have Been Temporarily Suspended!

Unless the Canadian Government makes a decision to augment the southern Selkirk Herd with a bull from another area, our remaining two cows will not be pregnant, so a spring penning will not occur.  We will announce here and on Facebook if/when these collections resume.  You can also email us at SCA@SCAWILD.ORG to be added to the notification list when lichen collections resume.  In the interim, we encourage all SCA members and followers to voice their support for Mountain Caribou Recovery in Idaho, Washington, and Canada.

Want to Collect Arboreal Lichens with Us?

Join members of the Selkirk Conservation Alliance as we collect arboreal lichens to support the endangered Selkirk Mountain Caribou recovery plan. Lichens collected are dried, cleaned of large debris, and stored for use at the southern-most maternal pen.  This pen will protect our last few pregnant cows and their newborn calves until they are strong enough to elude predators.

2018 Collections:  Our goal for the 2018 pen project was ~190 lbs (buffered to include some debris) by early-March, 2018.  As of mid-February we are very happy to report we have met our goal:

SCA volunteers have collected, dried, and cleaned of large debris:
[wppb progress=”150/190″ option=”animated-candystripe green” text=”~150 lbs” location=inside]

Lichens collected by other volunteers in WA, ID, and BC:
[wppb progress=”40/190″ option=”animated-candystripe green” text=”~40lbs” location=inside]


2020:  If there is a herd/southern pen project by the spring of 2019,  we will start collecting for the 2020 pen project in late May or June of 2019.

Please Note:  All collection events are scheduled using Facebook, so if weather conditions preclude efficient collection we can alert attendees quickly about last minute date or location changes (see our Facebook Events Section; or use the link here:   See upcoming collection and cleaning dates.

If you are an SCA Member, you can also download a copy of the permits, carry them with you, and collect on your own abiding by all the permit stipulations. You must follow all the guidelines for the specific permit you choose to collect under (IDL – East Side of Priest Lake (expires ~ 2020) or USFS – West Side of Priest Lake – pending). Be sure to study the maps carefully as many areas are off-limits to lichen collections.

What to Collect?  First off, understand what arboreal lichens are.  These are the stringy, hair-like, grayish green and brownish black strands that hang from many trees in the Selkirk Mountain forests.   The caribou eat both the dark brown Bryoria spp. and the light green Alectoria samentosa. Ground growing lichens are not palatable to mountain caribou and the permits we have obtained do not authorize collection of ground growing lichens.  Look up – or for dead branches on the ground.  Stringy arboreal lichens which have blown onto the ground retain the same nutritional characteristics as those still in the branches, and can also be collected.

Important!  Handling lichens directly should only be done with gloves on – using gloves that you don’t pet your dogs or other animals with, or have any other strong smells. This is to prevent disease or habituate the animals to smells that may imperil their future survival.

After you have collected the lichens, it’s very important to put them in a well ventilated area, in mesh bags, or lay them out to dry where they are protected from rain or hungry deer until they are dry.  Remove sticks, cones, needles, and leafy lichens as you frequently turn and dry the lichen. Once dry, store only in a mesh bag in a well ventilated space. Don’t store them in plastic bags or put them away wet if has been raining or snowing recently. Contact us for drop off locations in Priest River or on the west side of Priest Lake.  If you have a large volume (10# or more) of dried and cleaned lichens we may be able to arrange for a volunteer to pick them up (give the office a call or email us at

Let People Know on Facebook: “I’m Going” to Collect Lichens with SCA


Collecting Lichens on USFS Lands (2018):

(Note, this is a large document and will take some time to download – email us at SCA@SCAWILD.ORG if you have downloading issues)

Collecting Lichens on Idaho State Lands (2017-2021):

Please note, we will be requesting additional lower elevation sites on IDL lands in 2018 so check back for updates by mid-year.

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