USDA Forest Service officials have turned on the Fall Colors 2010 Hotline - 1-800-354-4595 - and will use Twitter, Facebook and blogging to provide users with the latest information about fall foliage color changes on Forest Service lands.
"Thousands of people take trips each autumn on national forests to see the spectacular show of colors," said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "Our national forests offer some of the country's best vistas to view fall colors and magnificent landscapes, and they offer an ideal setting for families to get outdoors and learn about trees and changing colors."
Changing fall colors also bring positive economic impacts to local economies and the tourism industry. For example, in New England alone, the fall foliage attracts an estimated $8 billion annually to area inns, restaurants, and local shops.
Forest Service employees are keeping tabs on the changing hues. The Fall Colors 2010 Web site has links to individual forest fall colors sites and suggestions on how to get kids excited about the season. The site also includes Frequently Asked Questions about why leaves change colors and what happens after the leaves fall. "In the temperate zones, the biggest stresses that trees face are changes of seasons," said Kevin Smith, a Forest Service plant physiologist and an expert on trees. "The fall foliage color change is a milestone during the process of this natural cycle. And trees handle it pretty well."
Forest Service officials indicate that general summer weather conditions experienced this year are not expected to influence the timing and intensity of leaf color. What is of particular importance is the timing and frequency of fall frosts.
The peak season for fall viewing in most national forests normally begins in late September and continues through early November. However, the specific timing and length of the fall color season is affected by autumn weather patterns that are often difficult to forecast.
Consult local forests for best foliage times in your area.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
The Agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to State and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.