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DNR to pay $100 per bushel of red pine cones this September

The pine cones will be used to harvest seeds to plant more red pine trees across the state.
Credit: Michigan DNR

MICHIGAN, USA — If you love the outdoors and are good at identifying trees, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) needs your help this September!

The DNR is looking for volunteers to gather red pine cones and take them to DNR offices around the state. The pine cones will be used to extract seeds for red pine trees, which are fast-growing trees that produce products like lumber and pulpwood.

An added bonus? Each bushel of red pine cones will earn you $100.

The DNR is looking for pine cones that are fresh off the tree and stored properly—not in burlap or plastic bags, which can ruin the pine cones by holding too much moisture. 

Officials say finding pine cones can be hard, so expect to spend a while searching. A bushel is defined as about two five-gallon buckets.

To help you locate the right type of pine cones, the DNR released the following tips:

  • Red pines have craggy, reddish bark and 4-to-6-inch needles that grow in bundles of two. Scotch and Austrian pine cones, which have some similarities, will not be accepted. See more tips on our identification flyer.
  • Cones should be picked off the tree; cones on the ground are likely too old or wet.
  • No twigs, needles or debris will be accepted in bushels of cones.
  • Cone scales – the individual plates of a cone – should be closed (scales should not move when squeezed), with a little green or purple tint. All brown and open, and they’re too far gone and will be refused.

"After pine cones are dropped off, they’re put into machines that gently warm and shake them, allowing the seeds within to drop out and be stored until planting time," reads the DNR's website. "This process helps foresters replant the forest and replenishes the supply of red pine seed, which is in high demand."

This offer will run from Sept. 1-30. When you're ready to drop off your bushel of pine cones, an appointment must be made with a participating DNR location:

In order to get paid for your pine cones, you must register as a vendor on the DNR's website here. For more information on this program, click here.

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