Friday, September 23, 2011

USDA Forest Service launches expanded Fall Colors 2011 website

Just in time, Fall Colors 2011 is underway with the U.S. Forest Service leading the charge to urge people to get outdoors, spend time in rural communities, and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular seasons.

For many rural communities, leaf peeping is a major source of revenue. Hotels, restaurants and local shops rely on the influx of dollars generated by the fall visitors.

From coast to coast, state and local economies are boosted because of the fall season. For example, the New England area receives an estimated $8 billion annually to local revenues. Throughout the Midwest, millions of visitors hit the road to enjoy the sights. In the West, the mountains provide destinations filled with tourists seeking a glimpse of shimmering gold aspens. Weather conditions in all areas impact peak viewing dates, so information provided on the Forest Service website will help visitors best plan their trips.

The agency’s revamped Fall Colors 2011 website includes clickable maps that link to forest-by-forest fall color information and to state tourism and fall color websites. Fall Colors 2011 also offers a variety of family activities such as coloring pages for kids, instructions on how to make a leaf book and links to a tree database. Photographs from visitors nationwide will be added to the site throughout the season.

Following tradition, the Forest Service has also turned on its Fall Colors Hotline: 1-800-354-4595. The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates and routes to take for peak viewing of fall colors on national forests.

In the Smokies:

In his latest report, Tom Harrington, a Park Naturalist and Volunteer with the Great Smoky Mountains Association, is predicting that the Smokies could have a favorable fall color season this year. However, due to reports from New England, this year’s colors may be relatively late across the Appalachians. You can read his full report by clicking here.


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