Brilliant Colors On Display In The Hudson Valley

GARDINER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Leaves have begun to burst with color across the Tri-State Area, and people have been out in search of the most breathtaking views.

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As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, the Mohonk Preserve, nestled in the Shawangunk Ridge in the Hudson Valley, has been ablaze in shades of red, orange and yellow. And while it is the largest rock-climbing destination on the East Coast, 40 percent of its visitors show up strictly for leaf-peeping.

“It’s a huge boon to economic development, and to local businesses who thrive and survive, really, on the fall foliage traffic,” said Glen Hoagland, executive director of the Mohonk Preserve.

The breathtaking views and brilliant colors combined pump $13 million into the local economy and create 350 jobs.

“I think they’re pretty cool,” said Emily, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Lenape Elementary School in New Paltz.

The fifth graders were at the preserve on a geology field trip, but the colors were a cool added bonus.

“I like to see yellow leaves,” said Rachel, 10. “Yellow is my favorite color.”
For the most vibrant colors, the ideal conditions are dry cool nights with ample sunshine during the day. B But this fall may be too dry

“This season’s foliage has been a little bit lackluster,” said Ethan Pierce, conservation specialist at the Mohonk Preserve. “A lot of the leaves are drying up prematurely.”

Since late September, it has been 7 degrees warmer than normal, and 3 inches light in the rain bucket.

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In addition, the front that spawned a tornado in Paramus last week knocked a lot of leaves off.

Still, there are spectacular spots. Staghorn sumac trees present beautiful cololrs of crimson, and witch-hazel glows in yellows and brown

“What you’re seeing in the leaves here the underlying pigments,” Pierce said.

Chlorophyll, the green pigment that serves a key role in photosynthesis, makes leaves green. But the chlorophyll breaks down in the fall so trees can preserve their energy and survive winter.

Which color is visible depends on the predominant underlying pigment of the leaf, and how early leaves turn depend on the species – maples turn early, oaks later.

But mid-October is peak leaf peeping season in the Hudson Valley, while peak peeping in the city arrives in just a couple of weeks.

The New York City leaf spectacle may be less brilliant than years past – estimated at a seven or eight on the scale of one to ten. But experts said it will likely still take your breath away.

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