In the winter of 2011, in a conversation with US Forest Service biologist Steve Bear, we
learned that one of the trees the USFS would like to raise, and did not have, was piņon
(pinus monophylla). The USFS was only interested in seed from a relatively small
geographic range within the current boundaries of the forest. As we probed into the
possibility of raising piņon for planting in the Angeles, we were greeted with
overwhelming support and enthusiasm from our forest neighbors, Los Angeles County
Fire Division of Forestry, the USFS, David Numer of Devil's Punchbowl (Los Angeles
County Parks and Recreation), BSA Troop 519 and numerous individuals who donated
money and labor to the project.
In spring 2011 we planted 2,500 seeds, and began a learning process that continues to
this day. Native American people have a relationship with the piņon tree that spans
thousands of years. Their movements were timed to coincide with the seed crop; songs
and ceremonies accompany the harvest. The piņon is one of the few trees which is
dependent on birds and mammals for its propagation; piņon jays carry seeds up to 13
miles from their parent tree to cache them, fueling the growth of new stands of piņon.
Planting trees in pots proved difficult; for millennia Native American people have been
planting them, but they did so by putting them directly into the ground.
Our 2011 seedling crop was very small, and because piņon produce seed in a three
year cycle, our next chance to harvest local seed should have been the summer of
2013; but the drought, already in its second year by then, altered that seeding cycle. In
2014 there was a very small seed crop, which we did not harvest. To date we have not
resumed planting efforts.
With the permission of the USFS, we would like to try planting a portion of the seed
directly into the ground in suitable habitats where piņon once thrived in the Angeles.
What we have learned through the Forest Recovery Project is that trees which grow
from seed have a much better survival rate than those grown in pots and transplanted.
We would very much like to involve urban youth, native and non native, in that planting
effort. To stay abreast of the Pinon Project, join us on Facebook on the Forest Recovery