As cooler weather hits the area, a spot on a hillside along Highway 18 near Grand Ronde, Oregon, starts to transform. The tree-covered hillside mostly remains a deep green, but a circular section starts to lighten to a bright, contrasting yellow.
And a smiley face appears. Locals and regular visitors know to look for it every year, and it continues to make people smile.
The reason for the seasonal transformation is that the yellow trees are larch, which turns yellow and loses its needles every year, and the trees that make up the eyes and mouth are Douglas fir, which remains deep, dark green throughout the season.
The cute hillside attraction was a project of Hampton Lumber, who owns the area and decided to have a little fun with their plantings nearly a decade ago.
Kristin at Hampton Lumber spilled their secrets, according to Simple Floors, and shared some behind-the-scenes details.
“After harvest, our foresters design and implement plans to ensure regrowth of a healthy forest,” she explained. “Depending on the location and environment, seedlings of several different tree species are often planted.
“The idea for the smiley face started with David Hampton and our former timberland manager, Dennis Creel. When we harvested the site, we knew the area was highly visible to people travelling down Highway 18 so David and Dennis saw an opportunity to have a little fun.”
“They used a rope to measure the circle out and the eyes and mouth were triangulated from that point.
“Douglas fir was planted for the eyes and mouth and the rest of the face was filled out with larch. Both species will eventually be turned into lumber at our sawmills in Willamina and Tillamook.”
“Let’s just say smiley face designs are not the most efficient reforestation methods out there. With planning and planting it took about a week to finish.”
Though it may have taken some work to make the plan a reality, it is certainly appreciated by viewers, according to Carmen Wagler, who has worked in the area for 35 years.
“It’s a very depressed area here,” she told KATU-TV. “The jobs are gone. You drive along and see a smiley face, that’s all that matters.
“Yeah, my day is going to get better now because I saw a smiley face. It kind of brightens up the community.”
Kristin also said that the smiley face should still be very clear for another 10 years or so. It may start to lose its edges over time but it will still be there, as it will be between 30 and 50 years before that area is set to be harvested, according to The Oregonian.
“The Hampton smiley face is making its seasonal appearance!” Hampton Lumber shared on Nov. 12, along with a photo of this year’s hillside smile. “Have a great day!”
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