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The Minnesota DNR is in "urgent" need of cones — and it'll pay you for them. 

The DNR's State Forest Nursery needs hundreds of bushels of cones over the next few months so it can meet its 2022 reforestation efforts. Specifically, the DNR is seeking black spruce, jack pine and red pine cones. 

The DNR pays people anywhere from $20 to $150 per bushel of cones, depending on the type.

“We rely very heavily on the public to supply seeds and cones to the State Forest Nursery,” DNR Forestry Silviculture Program Coordinator Mike Reinikainen said in a statement. “Gathering seeds and cones is a great outdoor fall activity that helps produce future forests, plus it’s a good way to make some extra money.”

Cones are used to seed about 5,000 acres a year to reforest DNR-managed lands and to grow seedlings at its nursery, which are used to reforest public and private lands across the state. The DNR also plants seeds and seedlings following disturbances, such as fires or logging. 

This year's drought and the hard freeze in late May seem to have disrupted cone and seed development for a lot of tree species, Reinkainen told the Duluth News Tribune, noting cones with viable seeds were "scarcer" this year. And this could have a ripple effect in the coming years. 

The wildfires in northern Minnesota didn't help things either, FOX 9 notes. And seeds collected this year could help replenish areas that were burned. 

"The supply of seeds and cones sold to the nursery has fallen off over the past few years," Amelie Hyams, outreach specialist with the DNR's Division of Forestry, told Bring Me The News. "This is apparently due to fewer people gathering them. To meet our reforestation goals, we need more people gathering seeds and cones — and we hope they will make it a regular habit. It’s a great outdoor activity that helps plant future forests, and you can earn a little money too."

The DNR says a variety of tree seeds and cones are needed, but black spruce, jack pine and red pine are in "particularly high demand." The DNR will accept black spruce pine cones through February 2022 and jack pine and red pine (Norway pine) through the end of this month, so long as the cones haven't opened, the DNR's website says.

Cone-pickers can collect seeds and cones by the bushel from their own property, other private property (so long as you have the landowner's permission) and on state forest land. The DNR notes that black spruce cones can be challenging to reach high up on the tree, so DNR staff can direct cone pickers to timber harvest locations where black spruce tops have been left on site.

But before you go out and collect cones, the DNR says you should contact one of the seed drop locations, which are in the northern third of the state, for more information on how to collect ripe cones and directions on how to present the cones for purchase. 

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