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Now is a great time to appreciate fall color in Oregon
This is a photo of a black gum tree in fall foliage colors.
A black gum in full fall glory
Oregon Department of Forestry News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
Major Media Distribution
October 11, 2011
 
Contacts: Paul D. Ries, 503.945.7391
Cynthia Orlando, 503-945-7421
 
 
Whether you're a nature lover, photographer, or just enjoy getting your exercise in the great outdoors, right now as the days shorten and nights grow cooler is a great time to take in the beauty of Oregon's fall colors.
 
The forests of Oregon both rural and urban are starting out on an amazing transformation. 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 red alder, dogwood or vine maple as they catch our eye with their brilliant colors and hues.
 
Good places to take in the sights of the season
Great fall color can often be found close to home, both in city parks or arboretums. If you're in the neighborhood, plan a visit to one of these destinations.
 
Portland
In the Portland area, try Hoyt Arboretum to check out its diverse collection of more than 8,000 trees and plants from around the world. This park-like setting includes some 187 acres with 21 trails covering 12 miles. Located just two miles from downtown Portland, it's a great place to take kids. The breathtaking Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, northeast of Portland, is also an excellent place to take in the beauty of the season's colors.
 
Silverton
In Silverton, the Oregon Garden is a showcase for thousands of plants in more than twenty specialty gardens, plus water features, wetlands, a conifer garden, and the 400 year-old Signature Oak.
 
Corvallis
Oregon State University's campus in Corvallis also features fall beauty around every corner this month.
 
Eugene / Springfield 
If you live in the Eugene-Springfield area, take a hike at Lane County's 209-acre Mount Pisgah
Arboretum bordering the coast fork of the Willamette River; it’s located east of I-5 and just south of Eugene.  If you've never been there before, their annual "Mushroom Festival" on Sunday, October 30th, might be just the time to visit. Eugene's University of Oregon campus offers another chance to enjoy great fall color in a more urban setting.
 
Ashland
Ashland's 93-acre Lithia Park is the perfect place to experience fall color splendor. Located within walking distance of downtown Ashland, Lithia Park Woodland Trail is part of a 100-acre National Historic Site. The one-mile walking trail offers much to see or photograph in a beautiful wooded setting.

This is a photo of sugar maple trees in a residential area that are showing fall foliage color.
Sugar maple street trees displaying their fall colors
Why leaves change color
This time of year often prompts both kids and adults to ask: "Why do leaves change color, anyway?"
 
"The leaves of deciduous trees change color each fall due to a combination of environmental factors," says 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 says 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.
 
A series of dry days with cool night-time temperatures is ideal to creating beautiful fall color, so each season is a bit unique from the next. And, although abundant fall rain and wind can shorten the fall color period, Oregon usually has a long fall color viewing period.
 
Thinking about planting a tree this fall?
The autumn months, after leaf drop, is a great time to plant a new tree. For fall color in small places, consider paperbark maple for its brilliant, shiny scarlet leaves. For small to medium areas, take a look at Persian Parrotia (Parrotia persica) which can grow tall, but slowly, and has purple, yellow, orange, and sometimes even red leaves on the same tree at the same time.  For large spaces and yards, Scarlet oak makes a great addition to the landscape.
 
When planting a new tree, make sure the roots are covered, but don't plant your tree too deeply. Instead, set it slightly above the level of the surrounding soil to allow for settling and increased soil drainage. Also, don’t fertilize your tree after planting wait until early spring to do this.  Do add a few inches of mulch around the base of the tree.
 
Help a neighbor in need
While everyone enjoys fall color, many people do not enjoy the fall leaf drop. If there are seniors or others in your neighborhood who are unable to rake up their leaves, consider offering to rake them up for them, or organizing a leaf raking party to help out. In these challenging times, it's important to show you care.
 
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