Tomorrow morning Lydia and Larry Vassar and I are going to the Santa Rosa Indian Reservation to help out with the Parry Pinyon Pine Protection Project. We’re working to make the pinyon groves more fire resistant so that if a wildfire were to come through, it would be a low-intensity one, rather than a devastating conflagration. We’ll be limbing the lower pinyon pine branches, removing vegetation growing beneath the trees, and pruning the surrounding shrubs to eliminate potential fuel ladders. We’re learning to use traditional environmental practices to enhance the health of the groves.
Sean Milanovich roasting the closed green pine cones over an open fire to help remove the incredibly sticky pine pitch and to open the cones to release the nuts. A large group of us worked all day gathering the pinyon pine cones in the Thomas Mountain area about a month ago.
Once the pine cones opened after roasting and cooled down, we removed the the delicious and nutritious pine nuts, a very labor-intensive process.
Parry Pinyon Pines Protection Project Flyer: Click on the link for more information about the project. Below is an excerpt from the flyer:
Pinyon pine trees are found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains. There are two species of pinyon: Pinus monophylla and P. quadrifolia. Both species are culturally important to the Cahuilla Indians and other Southern California Tribes. The southern end of the Thomas Mountain and Garner Valley areas are the northern extent of the Pinus quadrifolia or four-needle pinyon (aka Parry pine), and its range extends deep into Baja California. Pinus monophylla (single needle pinyon) is found on the desert side of the Peninsular Range, usually between 3800 and 6000 feet in elevation.
Today, with nearly 100 years of fire suppression activity and the suspension of native burning and traditional gathering practices to help manage the “wild” lands, vegetation is very dense in the areas where these trees grow.