The leaves. They are a-changin'. Early.

Eric Koeppel, photos by Andrea Paulseth

The Chippewa River Trail is pretty stressful. For trees. This year.
The Chippewa River Trail is pretty stressful. For trees. This year.

If a tree gets stressed out from over a year of unusual weather patterns and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? No, of course not. That's nutty talk.  But its leaves do start to change earlier than normal according to this WPR article.

You may have noticed that some of our bark-covered friends are changing colors and beginning to shed some leaves, and although it’s not quite “California Dreamin’” weather yet it is still a tad early for this to be happening. But forestry experts are not surprised given how bizarre weather conditions have been since last year.

In case you forgot, last summer was quite hot and extremely dry; in fact we weren’t even allowed to burn stuff for most of it. Experts say that early leaf changing is a “normal reaction to stress” that was brought on by last summer’s conditions. Todd Lanigan, a forestry health specialist for the Department of Natural Resources in Eau Claire says that the drought “lowered resistance to disease and bugs” and it will take a couple of years for the trees to fully recover.

So don’t freak out when you see the occasional orange leaf in the remaining weeks of summer, its just a product of tree-stress. And hey, maybe all the trees need are a little R&R and a good deep-bark massage and they’ll be back to normal next year.