That's pretty cool, Cayuse. From my very limited understanding of morels, there are 'landscape morels' and natural morels. I would guess what you found were the landscape versions. Some of the naturals are also called 'fire morels' found at burn sites. We had two show up in our garden two years ago, which floored me. But they did not return either. Two grocery bags full! Those are worth $30 / pound.
Right now in the Sierra foothills we are seeing morels at 4500' up to 6000', but it's such a weird year without much snow. It's our first year harvesting the morels, and they are so distinctive it's quite safe for us. We've done our homework and have a handfull of other 'shrooms that we can collect: lions mane, cocorra (fall & spring versions), oyster mushrooms, boletes, blewits, sierra puffball to name a few. At first you are afraid to try anything, but after you nail down one or two species it becomes easier.
We use several books to help us ID the mushrooms and a number of websites. David Arora is a northern California expert with two excellent guides. I also follow several groups on Facebook where I can post photos and get feedback from experts including Mr. Arora. I watch those sites and have been able to get a feel for what's happening locally. Good hunting!
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