The 2020 pine nut harvest season kicks off on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Both agencies are working together to ensure the public is safely harvesting pine nuts and aware of the regulations. The length of the pine nut harvest season varies depending on crop quality and seasonal weather conditions. It is generally September to late October when pine nuts are available for harvest.

The BLM and U.S. Forest Service have two types of pine nut harvesting: personal use and commercial use. Personal use is the harvesting of relatively small amounts of pine nuts not intended for sale. Commercial use is when harvesters intend to sell their nuts or if they are harvesting large quantities for personal use.

Individuals and families who visit lands managed by the BLM and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest can gather up to 25 pounds of nuts per season/per household without a personal use permit and at no charge. This limit provides a sustainable level of harvest and protection of natural resources across pine nut picking areas. Anyone who would like to gather more than 25 pounds must contact their local BLM or Forest Service office.

Even though the public can harvest pine nuts under personal use without obtaining a permit at one of the BLM or U.S Forest Service offices, it is recommended that individuals check with the local office to obtain current information on where to collect the pine nuts. Due to COVID, all BLM and Forest Service Offices are currently closed to the public. To obtain specific pine nut harvesting information, closure information, fire restrictions, areas to avoid, etc., please either call the local office or check out the agency’s website. Due to the lack of seasonal moisture, many of the pine nuts have dried up, possibly affected by insects, and/or collected by birds making it very difficult this year to locate areas still viable for collection.

Personal use harvesting is allowed anywhere that pinyon pine trees may be found on BLM managed lands. The BLM Battle Mountain and Ely Districts have issued a total of seven commercial permits for the collection of 66,000 pounds of pine nuts. The public and Tribal members are still allowed to collect within these units for personal use. For more information on BLM commercial use, please contact Coreen Francis, State Forester at 775-885-6021 or

On the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, personal use harvesting is also allowed anywhere that pinyon pine trees may be found on the Austin-Tonopah, Bridgeport, Carson, Ely, and Mountain City-Ruby Mountains-Jarbidge Ranger Districts, as well as the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. Ely Ranger District issued one commercial contract to harvest approximately 4,000 pounds within the Monte Cristo Unit in the White Pine Range near Mount Hamilton, and two commercial permits to harvest up to 1000 pounds within the Kalamazoo Unit in the Northern Schell Creek Range. The public and Tribal members are still allowed to collect within this area for personal use. For more information on Forest Service commercial use, please contact Ely District Ranger Jose Noriega at 775-289-0176 or

BLM and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest law enforcement will actively pursue all applicable federal violations against any illegal pine nut harvesters. Violators could be punished by a $5,000 fine or six months in jail or both (per violation). There could be further charges and restitution i.

To report suspicious pine nut harvesting on lands managed by the BLM, call the Lake Mead 24-hour Dispatch Center at 702-293-8998. If the suspicious activity is occurring on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, please contact either the Nevada Division of Wildlife 24-hour Dispatch Center at 775-688-1331 or 775-688-1332 (U.S. Forest Law Enforcement) or the local Ranger District Office from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).

If at any time a person feels threatened or is threatened, please leave the area and immediately call 911. Never approach anyone that may be illegally harvesting pine nuts consider your safety first. Instead, get details and descriptions of the incident and turn them over to an enforcement agency. Helpful information includes:

  • The license plate number and description of the vehicle involved (make, model, year, and condition).
  • Number of people involved, along with descriptions.
  • Date and time of incident.
  • Location and directions to the area, if possible GPS coordinates.
  • Name of county incident occurred in.
  • Name and telephone number of person reporting the incident.
  • Provide any cell phone photos if available.

Family: Pinaceae or Pine

Leaves: Needles in groups of 2; 1″ to 2″ long; fairly stiff; yellow-green; evergreen, remain on tree 3-9 years.

Twigs/buds: Twigs fairly stout; orange to brown colored. Buds small, oval, brown.

Flowers/fruit: Fruit a woody cone with very short or no stalk; 1″ to 2-1/2″ long; oval to round; reddish- brown; scales few and not tipped with a prickle; seeds wingless and large, about 1/2″ long, thin-shelled, edible.

Bark: Fairly thin; ridged.

Wood: Unimportant except for firewood and occasionally fence posts; fairly hard.

General: Native throughout most of southern, central, and eastern Utah at mid-elevations; and throughout the southwestern U.S. The fruit (seed) is an important food for certain southwestern Indians. Grows on dry sites, often mixed with junipers. Shade intolerant.

Landscape Use: Seldom planted though could do well on dry sites. Sometimes present as native trees in housing developments–trees in this situation often do poorly due to over-watering and root damage; pinyons in these situations also pose a fire hazard. Zones 4-8.

Photo Credit : CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia

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