Rangers use PDAs to help track colors, leaf drop of fall foliage

Posted Oct. 09, 2009, at 11:31 p.m.

For 50 years Maine Forest Service rangers have been asked to track the colors and leaf drop during fall foliage season. This year, for the first time, those rangers are utilizing the latest technology to make foliage assessments more immediately accessible to potential visitors.

According to a Department of Conservation press release, rangers are using personal data assistants — PDAs — as they patrol woodlands. The rangers enter foliage reports gathered during those patrols into their PDAs and transmit the information electronically to DOC headquarters.

The technology was supplied by New Hampshire-based Global Relief Technologies and provided to rangers earlier this year. The technology is primarily designed to serve as an intelligence-collecting tool for use in emergency management efforts.

But the PDA-based reports also allow the DOC and the Maine Forest Service to let leaf-peepers know where the foliage is at, near or past peak.

“I’m very pleased that we’re able to support Maine’s fall foliage season and subsequently our tourism industry,” Bill Williams, the state supervisor for the Forest Protection Division, said in the press release. “It’s great when we can use modern technology to help provide a better experience for all of us who enjoy the spectacular fall colors.”

Forest rangers have used the technology during spring flooding and wildfires, as well as during other emergencies.

The rangers’ foliage assessment results are posted to the DOC’s fall foliage Web site, www.mainefoliage.com, and the input from rangers is immediately available to Web site managers, who can pass up-to-date information along to visitors.

To submit an item for publication in the Outdoor Notebook, send e-mail to jholyoke@bangordailynews.net, fax to 990-8092 or mail information to Outdoor Notebook, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402-1329.

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