SMITHVILLE, Mo. — Doug Lowe says his son, a mushroom hunter, had an unexpected encounter with a park ranger at Smithville Lake last week.
Lowe said a Clay County park ranger stopped his son to ask if he had any mushrooms. When he told the ranger he did not have any yet, the ranger told him, ‘“Well, if you do you’re going to have to pour it out or you could be arrested,’” Doug Lowe said.
When Lowe’s son stopped by the Clay County Park Rangers headquarters, officials had their reasoning.
"They had decided that was matter or material that belonged to the park, and no one was going to be allowed to hunt mushrooms," Lowe said.
An ordinance passed 35 years ago allows the park rangers to make that decision.
According to Clay County, no mushroom hunter has been cited or arrested over the ordinance, and while they can’t hunt on county property, they can do so on the hundreds of acres managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"We are moving to ask the commission to amend the ordinance to allow the removal of edible plant life at our parks," Payton Docheff, a Clay County spokesperson, wrote in a statement.
“We expect this to be another example of responsive modification to older policies by which both residents and visitors can enjoy superior services and amenities,” Docheff added.
Lowe said he will believe it when he sees it.
"It’s out of control, and they need to be reigned in a little bit," he said.