Fall colors begin showy display in Northeast Oregon

By Observer staff October 21, 2013 02:52 pm

Waters of the Grande Ronde River reflect the changing Autumn colors at Hilgard State Park Saturday. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Waters of the Grande Ronde River reflect the changing Autumn colors at Hilgard State Park Saturday. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

Vibrant change is making its way through Northeast Oregon as autumn settles in. Thousands of trees have turned yellow and red before shedding their leaves for the winter.

Whether you’re a photographer, nature lover, or just enjoy life in the great outdoors, right now is a great time to take in the beauty of Oregon’s fall colors. Hiking along a trail, driving through Oregon’s back roads or enjoying a favorite city park are all good opportunities to appreciate the leaves of ash, red alder, dogwood, vine maple and other trees as they catch the eye with their brilliant colors and hues.

This time of year often prompts people to ask, “Why do leaves change color, anyway?”

“The leaves of deciduous trees change color each fall due to a combination of environmental factors,” said Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. “During summer months, a leaf is green because the tree is making chlorophyll through the process of photosynthesis.” 

Ries said that as day length wanes in the fall and temperatures cool, photosynthesis begins to shut down, revealing “the natural color pigments of the leaves” — what we know as fall colors.