Clark County boasts beautiful fall colors of its own
Southwest Washington doesn’t boast Colorado’s aspen trees, Vermont’s sugar maples or even Eastern Washington’s western larch that overwhelm the eyes with color come fall time. Our evergreen trees are just that — always green, unchanging. Still, this area has its own kind of seasonal beauty if one only knows the right time and place to find it.Brian Morris works at the state Department of Natural Resources in the Pacific Cascade region studying silviculture, or the growth of trees. Leaves on deciduous trees change color in autumn when temperatures drop and the amount of daylight decreases.“When those two things start to happen, the trees can start to sense that,” Morris said.Chlorophyll, the chemical that produces the green in leaves, breaks down to reveal carotenoids and anthocyanins. These produce the reds, oranges and yellows. When you see different colors in the leaves, you’re really seeing different compounds that are normally masked by chlorophyll.“The process is genetically controlled. It is species specific as far as when they start to change,” Morris said. “Temperature is one of the main drivers.”In general, higher elevations are going to show color first due to cooler temperatures. That means the view from the top of Silver Star Mountain is currently more colorful than from Cape Horn in the Columbia Gorge.