September is Cone Collection Season!

There is a bumper crop of cones on our known blister rust resistant sugar pines around Lake Tahoe this year! With the critical help of arborist Ben Cavalier and our own Edric Alvarez, we have been busy climbing these “seed trees” to collect as many of their precious cones as possible for our restoration work. We are on track to collect about 100 bushel bags of seed containing roughly 200,000 seeds this season! At the end of the harvest, we will take the cones to the US Forest Service Placerville Nursery for processing and storage. According to our service agreement, the US Forest Service gets half of the seed for their own restoration needs. We send some of our seed to be grown at the private CalForest Nursery in Etna and some is grown in Placerville to 1 and 2 year old seedlings.

Harvesting hundreds of pounds of seed this year is great news of course, because smoke and forest closures prevented us from harvesting much at all the past two years – and we now need as much seed as possible to help replant the Caldor Fire and other burn scars! To this end, we are inviting all forest-lovers to collect and send us Jeffrey pine and incense cedar seed from around Tahoe as well.

To be sure, we are not the only ones scampering around in the woods to climb trees, harvest seed and plant seedlings. The US Forest Service, CalFire, contracted tree climbers and planting crews are all doing their part, too. Our partners at the USFS Placerville Nursery were featured in a recent KQED documentary about saving California’s forests. We thank Arnaldo Ferreira, USFS Region 5 Geneticist, for sharing the video with us – and for his helpful support and facilitation of our work over the years. It was the Placerville Nursery that conducted the blister rust resistance testing to determine which of the candidate trees we collected cones from around Lake Tahoe are resistant to the fungus. Of over 500 trees tested, only 66 were resistant; these are the “seed trees” we have been climbing this September!

Our cone collections this September were featured twice on ABC Reno’s Channel 8 KOLO-TV News. Watch these and other short videos to learn more about how we and our partners are working to ensure that our forests – and sugar pines – persist. Each photo below is an active link to a video!

Arnaldo Ferreira monitors sugar pine seedlings at the USFS Placerville Nursery.
Sugar Pine Foundation Executive Director Maria Mircheva tests seed ripeness on KOLO-TV.
Ben Cavalier harvesting cones from a loaded resistant sugar pine on KOLO-TV.

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