Looking to pick up side gig? Well, picking red pine cones will net you cash and help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources plant trees in state forests.

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In the month of September the DNR is collecting cones at six locations across the state. You'll get $75 per bushel. Seeds are gathered from the pine cones that are used to replant forests and replenish the supply of red pine seed.

The DNR says they're looking for "fresh" red pine cones - so cones should be picked off the tree, as fallen cones on the ground are likely to be too old or wet.

The simplest way to get them? Pick from living red pine trees where branches are close to the ground.

An AmeriCorps member picks ripe red pine cones, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
An AmeriCorps member picks ripe red pine cones, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

You can also find cones in felled treetops from recent timber sales, though you'll have to get permission from the logger. Another place to look is in recently gathered squirrel caches, if you're cool with stealing from a squirrel (the DNR says this is fine btw).

Here's some tips the DNR gives for getting started:

  • First, make sure you’re picking the right species. Red pines have craggy, reddish bark and 4- to 6-inch needles that grow in pairs. Scotch and Austrian pine cones will not be accepted.
  • Cone scales should be closed, with a little bit of green or purple tint – all brown and open, and they’re too far gone.

You'll  also need to register as a vendor in the DNR's system so you can get paid.

The DNR says to store cones in a dry place in mesh bags, not burlap or plastic bags as they hold moisture. The DNR is providing onion bags at drop-off locations.

You can drop off cones by appointment at select DNR Customer Service Centers and one nursery location:

SEE MORE: Michigan Tunnel of Trees Tour

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Big Seven Travel has named the River Road National Scenic Byway as Michigan's "Most Scenic Drive" for 2021. It is a gorgeous stretch of road filled with forests, trails, scenic overlooks and runs parallel to the historic Au Sable River

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