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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 10/9/2012

U.P.'s colorful palette ablaze, spreading to the south

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

The forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are already painted in the deepest hues of red, gold, purple, and bronze, and that magic carpet of color is steadily rolling out in a southerly direction.

Some of the best fall foliage viewing locations in the U.P. are in the heavily wooded river valleys to the west of St. Ignace, at Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise, and along the Keweenaw Peninsula, where the aspens blend with oaks, maples, tamaracks, and beeches in an explosive quilt of brilliant tints.

The northern section of the Lower Peninsula has a blaze of its own to offer as colors start to spread out in wider streaks around the Charlevoix and Petoskey area. The country roads inland from Lake Michigan cover a rolling landscape where the reds and yellows seem to melt into a marriage of orange on nearly every hillside.

In the Gaylord and Grayling area, maple and beech take center stage and form a calico backdrop with the many pines in the region, where the peak of colors is expected to hit by the weekend.

The southern part of the state is already bustling with the autumn enterprise of pumpkin stands, corn mazes, cider mills, and farmers’ markets, and the colors of the season are increasing their presence each day.

Ohio is getting doses of fall color here and there, building towards a peak period in the more forested southern part of the state around the end of the month. Dogwood and sweetgum have provided some deep reds and purples to highlight the first phase of the change, according to Casey Burdick, a forester with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“The cool nights and bright sunny days in September have been the perfect recipe for great and vibrant fall color,” Burdick said recently.

Forecasting the exact timing of peak fall colors is an inexact science, Burdick said, given the number of variables involved. The amount of sunlight, temperature, wind and rain all play a role in creating the level of brilliance and the duration of autumn colors.

There are also biochemical changes that take place in the leaves as the nights get longer and colder. Chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanins are pigments that all play roles in producing some of the brightest fall colors.

Burdick said that in the wake of this summer’s drought, the Buckeye State should expect to see true fall colors in the larger wooded areas where a central core of trees is protected from too much sunlight reaching the soil and drawing out the moisture.

“People should expect this (peak) color to be delayed by as much as a week in some areas because as the weather starts to moderate, these trees try to hold on a little longer to continue to produce food for winter storage.”

The best guess at this point is for the northern third of the state to begin to see some peak colors in about a week or so, with central Ohio a week later, and the southern portion of the state near the end of the month.

BASS PRO FOUNDER HONORED: Johnny Morris has been named the inaugural winner of the “Citizen Conservation Award” by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, in recognition of his long commitment to conservation work with fish and wildlife. The honor will heretofore be known as the “Johnny Morris Award”.

Morris, whose Bass Pro Shops enterprise now includes 58 mega outdoor retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, started his operation in the 1970s with just a trailer packed with bass tackle and a short piece of sales space in his dad’s Springfield, Missouri, liquor store.

As his business venture grew, his passionate support for conservation efforts kept pace, earning Morris the Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist Award and the International Conservation Achievement Award. Morris served three terms as chairman of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and was inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

“Johnny Morris is the epitome of the enlightened, able and progressive citizen conservationist who sees beyond the limits of one hometown or one state to the national or international scale, and works accordingly and effectively to produce results,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources commissioner.

LATTA, BUDZIK AWARD: The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance recently gave its “Patriot Award” to U.S. Rep. Bob Latta and former Ohio Division of Wildlife chief Michael Budzik. The award goes to individuals “who have contributed throughout their lives to the protection and advancement of sportsmen’s rights the organization.”

Latta (R., Bowling Green) represents Ohio’s 5th district in Washington and has received a perfect score from the USSA for his pro-sportsmen voting record. :Latta was cited for his work to protect the use of hunting license fees and for his votes to create and preserve access to federal lands for hunters.

During Budzik’s time as chief, the USAA release said, he worked to open up Sunday hunting, and to defeat a ballot issue that sought a ban on mourning dove hunting. Since his retirement, Budzik has been involved in numerous efforts to promote the right to hunt, fish and trap.

“The Patriot Award ... is reserved for only those few who have gone far beyond the call of duty in defense of our great outdoor heritage,” said Bud Pidgeon, USSA president.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068 .



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