Dana Gehlhausen is an Interpretive Naturalist at Patoka Lake for Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. Dana studied Wildlife Biology at Ball State University and has worked at Patoka Lake since 2006, where she started as an intern. She always enjoys time spent outdoors, and a few of her favorite activities include archery, hiking and kayaking.
The autumn season is just around the corner. Soon farm fields will be completely harvested and trees will become defoliated. During relentless spring & summer storms the 17,000+ acres surrounding Patoka Lake lost a great amount of trees. These trees came down on hiking and biking trails, shelter houses, and even a restroom building above the beach. Many sycamores, oaks, and even Indiana’s state tree, the tulip poplar, met their match against the strong winds of these storms. With those storms, came a lot of early leaf fall from tulip poplars. The leaves of those trees quickly turned yellow and fell off. With all the rain that fell this past spring and a good shower almost weekly; one would think that the fall foliage color change would be holding off until mid-late October. However, there have been quick temperature changes and a lack of substantial rainfall that has lead some trees to already start losing leaves here in the Patoka Lake area. Corn stalks are drying up and being harvested from the nearby fields as well.
Some trees in this part of the state that are already displaying their stunning fall colors of red, yellow, and orange are the sassafras, walnut, sycamore, tulip poplar, beech, and several varieties of sumac. Other species are also changing, but it is less apparent at this time.
Due to severe weather early in the spring, many trees became bare-leafed early on and maintained that appearance throughout the summer. Other trees were not as tolerant of the minimal rainfall we have experienced recently. It will be interesting to compare this season’s leaf change to last year’s. During the severe drought we had in 2010, the peak time to view the leaves was the second and third week in October. I believe it will be around that same time frame this season as well. After all, most maple trees and the hardy oaks and hickories are still holding on tightly to their leaves.
A kayak tour of Patoka Lake will be taking place this Saturday, September 10th 9:30a.m. at Wall’s Lake boat ramp. Anyone wanting to take a look at the beginning of this transformation into fall can meet the Interpretive Naturalists at the ramp for a two hour tour on the waters of Patoka Lake. Just bring your kayak, life jacket, and other gear for a great morning spent outdoors. For more details call the Patoka Lake Visitor Center at (812)685-2447. Also view more events going at Patoka Lake by accessing our website.
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