|U.S. Forest Service offers planning tools to see 'Fall Colors'|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Tuesday, 17 September 2013 10:05|
WASHINGTON, - The U.S. Forest Service is urging people to get outdoors, spend time in rural communities and urban forests, and enjoy one of nature's most spectacular seasons with its Fall Colors 2013 campaign.
"America's public lands, particularly our national forests, are among the most spectacular venues to view the changes in fall colors," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "The Forest Service offers numerous resources to help you plan your experience. Nature is closer than you may think."
The Forest Service has launched an online map to help visitors see if trees are peaking in their state. The map will be shaded in green (not peaking) to bright red (peaking) to brown (past peak). Another map helps visitors find a national forest nearest them.
For a more analogue approach to trip planning, the Forest Service is once again offering 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.
Fall colors provide an economic boost to communities across the United States. The New England area alone receives an estimated $8 billion annually in local revenues from fall visitors. In the Midwest, millions of visitors hit the road to enjoy the sights, and in the West, the mountains offer destinations filled with tourists seeking views of shimmering gold aspens.
The mission of the U.S. 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. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
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