Drought won’t stop autumn color show
By Carole Carlson email@example.com | 648-3154 October 2, 2012 6:12PM
"I'm in love with it," said Beatriz Velasco of Hammond about the vibrant fall colors that form a brilliant canopy of red, orange and yellow along the sidewalk outside Edison Elementary School in Hammond, Ind. Tuesday October 2, 2012. Velasco, who walked her third-grader to school, recently planted trees in her yard and is hoping for similarly bright colors. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Anthocyanin in the leaves after photosynthesis can cause a reddish tint.
Tannin, a waste product stored in cells, causes a brown or golden color.
Carotenoids bring out yellows and oranges.
Coloration varies by the type of tree and weather late in the summer. Maple trees typically include yellow, orange and red. Hickories feature yellows and golds. Oak trees usually have browns or deep reds.
Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana 49
10 a.m. — Fall Color Stroll. Meet outside the Nature Center for a 45-minute woodland hike exploring the early colors of fall and why they appear.
2 p.m. — Leaf It Be! Meet the naturalist at the Nature Center for a special fall color sand art project.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1 to 2:30 p.m. — Join a ranger for a fall colors hike on the Dune Ridge Trail to enjoy the fall colors. During the hike you will learn how the animals and insects are preparing for winter. The Dune Ridge Trail is located at the South End of the Kemil Beach parking lot.
Contact phone number: 219-395-1882
For fall color updates, see https://www.facebook.com/INDUNES
Updated: October 2, 2012 7:56PM
There’s still plenty of green in the trees at Indiana Dunes Park, but signs of a colorful fall are beginning to emerge.
“I’m expecting some great fall colors,” said park naturalist Brad Bumgardner at the park’s Nature Center. “We did get a lot of late summer/fall rains.”
As hikers moved across trails extending from the Nature Center, Bumgardner said the recent cool nights and sunny days create the perfect recipe for fall foliage colors.
“A lot of folks think you have to go to Brown County, but the color is just as rivaling here,” said Bumgardner, who predicts the color changes will be about a week ahead of schedule because of the drought.
Returning from a trail hike, Sheila and Jim Lilly, of downstate Loogotee, said they debated between spending time in the Smokies or the Indiana Dunes. “We’re just here for a couple days,” said Sheila Lilly.
Jim Lilly said he’s enjoying the park and the lake. “Compared to where we’re at, there’s more color here,” he said. Sheila Lilly said she likes the beauty of Lake Michigan, which can’t be found in Brown County.
Matt Morrissey, of Dune Acres, walked to the park for an afternoon hike. “It’s gorgeous. The sky is striking and the ferns are yellow and brown. There’s more stuff beginning to peak.”
Lenny Farlee, a forester with the Purdue Extension office in West Lafayette, said it’s the sun that makes the foliage colors more intense.
Trees on the outside of wooded areas are often more colorful because they get more direct sunlight, he said.
“The best fall color can often be seen in trees on the edge,” Farlee said. “That’s why trees along roads are more colorful and sometimes are the best way to view fall foliage.”
Because of the drought, however, some trees won’t be contributing to fall color. “Damaged leaves won’t be producing as the whole system is breaking down. Trees with green color still have potential,” he said.
Trees get their green color from chlorophyll. When sun, water and carbon dioxide are plentiful, they retain that green color. When days grow shorter, trees live off food stored during the summer, bringing out other colors, Farlee said.
“As day length gets shorter and we start to get some cooler weather, chlorophyll will start breaking down and stop masking the other colors in the leaves,” Farlee said.
Entering Dunes State Park, Virginia creeper vines have already turned red. Sassafras trees are beginning to turn yellow and red, as well, Bumgardner said. He said the Black Tupelo will turn a crimson red.
Leaf peepers can keep updated on the park’s Facebook page. Bumgardner said he will post fall color updates about twice a week but he expects the next two weekends to be prime watching season.
In the park, he recommended Trail 9, which starts at the Nature Center and goes to two blowouts that will offer views toward the maple and ash forest and Lake Michigan.
The Indiana Dunes Tourism Visitors Center, just south of the state park, offers two fall color drives through Porter County. Details are listed in Indiana Dunes Country Activities Guide, available in some outlets and online at http://www.indianadunes.com/destination-guides/printed-guides.