WASHINGTON — One of the most spectacular seasons is underway and the U.S. Forest Service, whose mission maintains health diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests to meet the needs of present and future generations, is leading the charge to urge people to get outdoors, spend time in rural communities and enjoy the gorgeous display of color this fall.
“Fall is a special time when nature’s work transforms our landscapes into a natural patchwork of vibrant hues,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. “Because the Forest Service is the national source for tree expertise, we are ready to help Americans plan their trips and appreciate the incredible show.”
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. 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 click-able maps of the nearly 193 million acres of public land 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 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.