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Super Bloom Spring

Superbloom, Temblor Range, Carrizo Plain National Monument (Sumikophoto |Dreamstime.com)

With above-record rainfall drenching California this winter, wildflower super blooms are possible this Spring in Death Valley (late – Feb.), Anza Borrego State Park (mid-Mar.), the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve near Lancaster (early-Apr.) and the Carrizo Plain National Monument (early-Apr.).

Tiffany Camhi of KQED, San Francisco’s public television station, reported today that with a little more rain, a super bloom of poppies, lupine, owl’s clover and other wildflowers is possible.

The National Park Service reports that “The best blooms are triggered by an early, winter-type rainstorm in September or October, followed by an El Niño weather pattern that brings above average rainfall to the Desert Southwest.”

What’s needed for this rare profusion of wildflowers are preceding years of drought and massive winter rainfalls. Both have happened, so it’s “possible.”

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Winter Happens Here Too

Red Lake Creek, Hope Valley (11/30/18) Philip Reedy

Autumn ended yesterday.

Weeks ago, on the last day of November, Philip Reedy was traveling through the Hope Valley when he stopped to capture these wintry images of “everyone’s favorite cabin in the snow.”

We delayed posting his pictures until today, as they embody the transition from warm fall to cold winter colors, showing aspen bereft of their autumn gold, now encased in white.

Dude, winter happens here too. 

Red Lake Creek, Hope Valley (11/30/18) Philip Reedy
  • California Fall Color – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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November ends, not the color

LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/28/18) Frank McDonough

Today is the last day of November, but there’s still another 20 days of autumn ahead.

Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden demonstrates what’s ahead in today’s post.

California’s arboreta and botanic gardens are in their own, presently, with holiday displays blending with final bursts of fall color. To find an arboretum near you, CLICK HERE

  • Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Giving Thanks and Looking Back at 2018

On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is thankful to the many color spotters and photographers who contributed reports, photographs and videos in 2018.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): Jeff Luke Titcomb, Lisa Wilkerson-Willis, Anson Davalos, Walt Gabler, Chico Hiking Association, Lance Pifer, Peter Asco, Liz Grans, Alicia Vennos, Cindy Hoover, Michael Beatley, David Senesac, Kathy Smith, Jared Smith, Elliot McGucken, Will Ridgway, Ursula Esser, Toru Takahashi, Clayton Peoples, Herb Hwang, David Olden, Rodney Chai, Mark Harding, Alena Nicholas, Gigi de Jong, Matthew Pacheco, Jeff Simpson, Julia Ellis, Martha Fletcher, Josh Wray, Shelley Hunter, Dave Butler, Philip Reedy, Nick King, Todd Backman, Larry Salmi, Douglas Van Kirk, Bruce Wendler, Darrell Sano, Lisa May, Shanda Ochs, Robert Kermen, Connie Varvais, Dan Varvais, Mike Caffrey, Surjanto Suradji, Jeri Rangel, Adam Potts, Daniel Danzig, Tracy Zhou, Colin Birdseye, Bonnie Nordby, Cathy Tsao, Paul Kim, Peter Chun, Ming Lo, Jeff Hemming, Jennifer Cornell, Toru Takahashi, Joe Pollini, Patti Jananoski, Leor Pantilat, Steve Shinn, Roberto Ferido, Jerry Sy, Jason Paine, Gene Miller, Kathleen DiGiorgio, Crys Black, Benjamin Vu, Kirsten Liske, Laura Jean, Ravi Ranganathan, John Dinsmore, Tor Lacy, Candace Gregory, Sophie Beaney, Julie Kirby, John King, Thomas Haraikawa, Kathy Jonokuchi, Jake Puchalski, Jean Pan, Dylan Ren, Mark Harding, Melani Clark, Namita Mishra, Max Forster, Gabriel Leete, David Sharp, Ken Locke and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (you are too numerous to list).

Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color, and to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. We are truly indebted to every contributor.

Of course, this list is incomplete without mentioning my wife, Joan, who has driven the car and pulled it to the shoulder so that I could jump out to photograph particularly beautiful locations; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out spectacular color; and tolerated my exuberance in showing her countless stunning photographs taken by our contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have read, followed, reacted and commented here and on our social media pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Above is our video impression of autumn in California, this year. We produce a new video each autumn. To see them all, CLICK HERE.

The photographs selected for this year’s video represent: what happened this autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken in 2018.

If you would like your photographs considered for inclusion in next autumn’s video, submit “horizontal” pictures of fall color taken in places not often photographed. As, competition is stiffest among pictures taken at the most photographed destinations.

Autumn doesn’t end today. It continues for nearly a month longer. We’ll continue to post photos and reports, as received. Though today, we begin to dial back reports and will post them less frequently. We’ve also stopped sending  weekly reports to meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and plan an Orange Friday of fall color spotting, tomorrow.

See you next autumn, dude. 

California (Peak 75-100%) GO NOW! – In our hearts, California is always peaking.

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Looking Back at Years Past

Tomorrow, we post our annual Thanksgiving Day message and video review of 2018.

It will be our sixth annual “California Fall Color Looks Back” video. As, although CaliforniaFallColor.com went live in 2009, it wasn’t until 2013 that we began posting video reviews.

In advance of seeing “California Fall Color Looks Back at 2018,” we thought you might like to see those from years past.

Ron Tyler created each video. Ron is head of the Tyler Marketing Group, an El Dorado Hills-based marketing communications consultancy with expertise in social media, product marketing and video.

Each of the photographs selected for these videos is representative of what happened that autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color seen across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken that year. 

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

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How Have Wildfires Affected Fall Color?

Dead pine at sunset, Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Thanks to this summer’s wildfires, it’s been hazy for a month here in the Sierra Foothills.

Haze is not unusual to the foothills. Each autumn, Central Valley rice fields and other agricultural croplands are burned to dispose of leftover straw (stubble) and control disease and pest problems. For centuries before, native people burned grasses at summer’s end, to make it easier to collect oak acorns (a principal food source).

So, hazy skies have been part of California’s late summer for thousands of years. Though this summer’s many wildfires added particulates, gasses and ash in abnormally high quantities to our normally clean skies, causing people to ask, “How have the wildfires affected fall color?”

Plant scientists say smoke both benefits and harms plants.

Benefit – Smoke or haze are the product of combustion, which means higher levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) can exist, compared to normal. As CO2 increases, plant growth does as well, as long as there is sufficient sunlight. Nutrients in ash from a fire benefit new growth. And, fire opens a forest, eliminating mature trees and making space for young plants.

Harm – Smoke also drops ash and other particulates that reduce photosynthesis; those can clog “stomatal pores, reducing gas exchange in the leaf,” New Mexico University scientists write. Holocaustic wildfire can devastate a forest’s ecosystem, seriously depleting endangered species.

As we reported two years ago (Death of the Sierra), 100 years of fire suppression has created a catastrophe for the forest, air quality, wildlife and humanity. This year, we ate the bitter fruit of those decisions as we watched forests in Mendocino County, Shasta County, Mariposa County and countless other locations go up in smoke.

The most evident effect of a wildfire on fall color is that it will take years for stands of most species of deciduous trees to grow back. Deciduous plants that grow near water (aspen, cottonwood, willows) are the most resilient and first to recover.

Aspen Grove, San Bernardino National Forest (10/12/13) Lisa Wilkerson-Willis

It’s been three years since an oft-photographed aspen grove near Big Bear was burned in a major wildfire. At the time, we reported that the aspen would be the first trees to recover (Burnt Aspen to Recover).

Today, we spoke with Teddi Boston at the Barton Flats Visitor Center who said that within three months of that fire, the aspen were three feet tall and they’ve recovered fast since.

However, access to this grove is limited by logging which is occurring on the one-lane road that leads to the grove. So, until the logging ends access to the aspen is blocked.

One way to see aspen in the San Bernardino National Forest is to visit its Barton Flats Visitor Center where many aspen grow near the center. We also plan to send a reporter out to the Aspen Grove at peak to photograph Big Bear’s grove since the fire.

In contrast, deciduous forests in areas overrun by this past summer’s wildfires weren’t fire-resistant aspen, and were incinerated. Most of the deciduous trees lost to this year’s fires were maple, oaks and alder, which will take years to recover.

Fortunately, as expansive as this summer’s fires were, the number of trees destroyed still represent a fraction of the entire forest. Areas that were not burned will continue to display fall color, as they have in past years. For example, Yosemite’s fires occurred mostly outside the National Park. None of the black oak, bigleaf maple, or dogwood in Yosemite Valley were damaged.

Western dogwood, Plumas County (8/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Big Leaf Maple, Plumas County (8/27/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Nevertheless, color spotters have been reporting signs that haze and overcast may have reduced photosynthesis, triggering earlier displays of autumn color.

Jeff Luke Titcomb reports from Plumas County that Western Dogwood are showing early rose and Big Leaf Maple are beginning to turn yellow.

Chinese pistache, El Dorado Hills (8/28/18) John Poimiroo

Elsewhere in Sierra Foothill suburbs, exotic Chinese Pistache are showing early change of color, becoming splashed with yellow and orange.

Offering an optimistic view is Butte County color spotter Cindy Hoover who reports, “The one thing I have really been watching are the aspen. I think this year may be a phenomenal year since there’s been so much rain. The aspen leaves are darker green this year. I can only imagine the bounty of yellow, deep gold and red they’re going to share.”

Reports like Cindy’s indicate that a normal autumn is more likely than an accellerated one.

So, do not confuse today’s reintroduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, the feel of autumn in the air or a scattered number of trees and shrubs turning color early as proof that autumn has arrived.

Autumn has not arrived significantly earlier than in past years. Fall will happen just about as it has in previous years, regardless of the year’s many wildfires. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte (8/28/18) Starbucks

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Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?

Monarch Butterflies, Santa Cruz (1/15/2006) John Poimiroo

Ninety percent of the nation’s monarch butterflies have disappeared during the past 20 years. So many have disappeared that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service anticipates determining in 2019 whether to designate monarchs as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed in Michigan. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS

The colorful insects return to California in late autumn each year, but fewer and fewer of them have been doing so because they depend upon a few species of milkweed for reproduction, and habitats conducive to supporting monarchs have been declining.

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to provide financial assistance to create or improve monarch habitat.

The Michigan Farm Bureau reports that farmers and land owners will be able to apply for compensation at NRCS field offices, this year, for having created conservation cover and field borders or conducted prescribed burns and other brush management steps. The financial aid is designed to offset the cost of establishing or improving pollinator and monarch habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has indicated it will begin evaluating monarch conservation measures across the migration route with a decision expected in 2019 on whether to designate monarchs a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

Individuals can also help by planting butterfly and pollinator gardens and encouraging the creation of monarch habitats in their communities. CLICK HERE to learn how you can help.

Let’s keep this beautiful aspect of fall color returning to California.

 

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Giving Thanks and Looking Back at 2017

On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is thankful to well over 100 color spotters and photographers who contributed reports, photographs and videos in 2017.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): Darrell Sano,  LA Leaf Peeper, Alena Nicholas, Sandy Steinman, Josh Wray, Anirudh Natekar, Jeff Simpson, Jared Smith, Shanda Ochs, Kimberly Kolafa, Clayton Peoples, Alicia Vennos, Phillip Reedy, Naresh Satyan, Max Forster, Jeri Rangel, Carol Novacek, Nancy Wright, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Marc Hoshovsky, Crys Black, Jeff Hemming, Michael Beatley, Tracy Zhou, Gabriel Leete, Frank McDonough, Anson Davalos, Karin Davalos, Susan Morning, Dennis Vance, Daniel Stas, Dan Clark, Mohammad Delwar, Bruce Wendler, Will Ridgeway, Del Hossain, Andrew Zheng, Rich Aeschliman, Lee Foster, Nancy Hull, Martha Fletcher, Chris Gallagher, Gene Miller, Nicole Coburn, Jay Thesken, Steve Greer, Steve Shinn, Star Masterson, Jim Gardner, Leor Pantillat, Kathy Wasson, Terry Rightmire, Daniel Danzig, Dandy Candywolf, Jim Lancaster, Marc Hoshovsky, Kevin Gilligan, Ravi Ranganathan, Michael Brandt, Robert Cherenson, Erich Castellon,  Ryan Prawiradjaja, Cory Poole, Jennifer Tiffan, Ahnalise Draper, Trent Vierra, Dylan Ren, Kathy Jonokuchi, Bridgett Lochen, Mark Harding, Dan Varvais, Shane Coker, Peter Robbins, Ben Waterman, Blair Lockhart, Gene Miller, Niven D Le, Maggie Huang, John Caffrey, Micayla Anderson, Tony Rice, Ren Trujillo, Sigthor Markuson, Xin Wang, Simon Lau, Jennifer Franklin, Daniel Stas, Roger Gonzales, Brian Patterson, Laura Shane, Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar, Adam Weist, Jay Huang, James Forbes, Susan Taylor, Shreenivasan Manievannan, Hari Reddy, Larry Robbins, Mark Harding, Michael Morris, Jeff Hemming, Mark Harding, David Olden, Parrish Todd, Herb Hwang, Michele James, Steve Crowley, Deane Simpson, Deborah Garber, Nancy Hull, Anthony Occhipinti, Mohan Ram, Terry Willard, Dona Montuori Whitaker, Laura Jean, Walt Gabler, Robert Kermen, Paige Kermen, Niles Armstrong, Cindy Lee Hooper, Danie Schwartz, William Thompson, Titus Davis, Peter Mikuljan, Al Auger, Vasu Nargundkar, David Laurence Sharp and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook and Twitter pages (you are too numerous to name).

Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color, and to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. We are truly indebted to every contributor.

Of course, this list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has driven the car and pulled it to the shoulder so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and tolerated my exuberance in showing her stunning photographs taken by our contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have read, followed, reacted and commented here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Above is our video impression of autumn in California in 2017. We produce a new video each autumn. To see them all, CLICK HERE.

The photographs selected for this year’s video represent: what happened this autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken in 2017.

If you would like your photographs considered for inclusion in next autumn’s video, take pictures of fall color in places not often photographed by other photographers. As, the most competition occurs among photographs of popular destinations.

Autumn doesn’t end today. It continues for nearly a month longer. We’ll continue to post photos and reports, as received. Though today, we begin to dial back reports and will post them less frequently. We have also stopped issuing weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and plan an Orange Friday.

See you next autumn, dude.

California (Peak 75-100%) GO NOW! – In our hearts, California is always peaking.

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Looking Back at 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016

Tomorrow, we post our annual Thanksgiving Day message and video review of 2017.

It will be our fifth annual “California Fall Color Looks Back” video. As, although CaliforniaFallColor.com went live in 2009, it wasn’t until 2013 that we began posting video reviews.

In advance of seeing “California Fall Color Looks Back at 2017,” we thought you might like to see those from years past.

Ron Tyler created each video. Ron is head of the Tyler Marketing Group, an El Dorado Hills-based marketing communications consultancy with expertise in social media, product marketing and video.

Each of the photographs selected for these videos is representative of what happened that autumn, the extent and diversity of fall color then seen across the state, and some of the finest photographs taken that year.

2016

2015

2014

2013

 

 

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Fall Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

California loves its farmer’s markets.

There are literally hundreds of them in the state, and they are found in just about any city of significant population.

Los Angeles has 30 farmer’s markets… some periodic, some permanent.

Although farmer’s markets can be enjoyed year-round here, they’re best in autumn.

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

There’s just nothing quite as satisfying as exploring a farmer’s market’s booths and wares on a crisp autumn day. You walk the market in a cozy sweater and spend time leisurely chatting with the farmers, artists, authors and vendors.

Buying at a farmer’s market isn’t just about what you buy, it’s about the relationship you make with the person selling it.

Today, I bought three books, as birthday gifts, directly from the author, a writing instructor at the University of the Pacific.

I didn’t need a book review to know they might be something worth treasuring. His enthusiasm communicated that. You don’t get that on Amazon.com. Spending time at a farmer’s market gives you that and more.

Robert Kermen spent Veterans Day in Nevada City at its farmer’s market. The fall color in town was so-so, but the color to be seen at its farmer’s market was off the charts.

CLICK HERE for where to find farmer’s markets in California.