ST. GEORGE — The Bureau of Land Management Cedar City Field Office is currently issuing permits for the commercial gathering of pine nuts, which only occurs every few years.
The BLM is issuing nine commercial pine nut gathering permits for areas such as the Indian Peaks and Mountain Home ranges in Beaver, Iron and Millard counties.
Permits will be issued through a sealed bidding system, in which interested parties must mail a written application to the BLM Cedar City Field Office outlining the number of pounds they want to gather and a bid of how much they are willing to pay per pound, spokesperson Christian Venhuizen said.
“It’s what they think they can successfully harvest,” he said.
The minimum bid allowed is 25 cents per pound, and the permits are awarded based on who bids the highest price.
Applicants can bid for more than one permit, and applications are due before 2 p.m. Aug. 5. A $75 security deposit must be included in the application for each bid.
The permit system is in place in order to both prevent the nuts from being over-collected as well as to make sure that permitted harvesters can collect what they need.
Pine nuts are seeds that come from inside the cone of a pinyon pine tree. They are often used in cooking and baking, most commonly used in the making of pesto.
The nuts come in a small brown shell, which must be cracked open to reveal the small, light-colored nut inside. There are more than 3,000 calories in one pound of pine nuts, according to the National Park Service.
The commercial gathering of pine nuts is an opportunity that only occurs every three to five years. Pine nuts take time to mature, and each tree produces ripened seeds in cycles. It can take years to produce a crop large enough to support commercial gathering.
The last commercial sale in the Cedar City Field Office was in 2016, Venhuizen said.
Anyone can gather pine nuts for personal use, and permits are not required for people gathering under 25 pounds in a year, even if they intend to sell them.
The nuts can be gathered either by foraging for them on the ground or by plucking the cones from the tree. There are no special restrictions in place for the methods of gathering pine nuts, though harvesters must still adhere to the BLM’s land regulations regarding things like motorized vehicles.
There are approximately 330,000 acres of pinyon pine trees in the Cedar City Field Office management area.
“Many are not easily accessible, resulting in most of the collection occurring within a quarter to a half-mile from roadways,” Venhuizen said.
Collecting pine nuts doesn’t have negative environmental impacts, he said. The area has enough pinyon pine trees and pine cones so that even after commercial gathering, there will still be plenty of seeds to produce new growth.
“The BLM identified an abundance of trees and cones that make a commercial harvest plausible with no damage to the life cycle of the habitat,” Venhuizen said.
Bid packets, forms and maps are available at the BLM Cedar City Field Office at 176 E. D.L. Sargent Drive, Cedar City. For more information about the gathering permit or sale and bidding conditions, call 435-865-3000.
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