When people talk about the spectacular fall colors in the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, many times they are referring to our maple forests. The maple trees’ yellow, orange and red leaves create swaths of blazing color among the oaks’ subtler browns in our woodlands. Prior to settlement in the early 1800s, maple trees, which are fire intolerant, grew only in areas protected from natural fires, such as river corridors. As a result, maples were relatively scarce. In the last 200 years of human fire suppression, maples have become much more abundant throughout our wooded lands.