AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Conservation’s official fall foliage website — www.mainefoliage.com — will launch Wednesday, Sept. 14, and continue with regular reports on fall foliage conditions through Oct. 19 or until the entire state has reached past peak conditions, according to Gale Ross, Maine foliage spokeswoman.
Now in their 53rd year of foliage reporting, Maine Forest Service (MFS) forest rangers collect data and on-the-ground observations in each of the seven zones throughout the state and provide the information to the public and state media representatives. Their data is collected and complied on the fall foliage zone map included on the website, according to a press release from the Department of Conservation.
MFS forest rangers use mobile collection devices throughout the year to collect information needed for the Maine Forest Service and also to provide on-site observations for flood and other natural emergency situations, Ross said.
“These devices come in handy during the foliage season, as the forest rangers can submit their observations to me on a daily basis,” Ross said. The information then is posted on the website for constant updating for leaf peepers, she said.
The foliage website has a new design this year that will enable faster, easier access that can be viewed on mobile devices. Leaf peepers now can take photos with their phones and instantly submit them to the Maine foliage website, Ross said.
The site also incorporates link to social media, including Facebook, which allows leaf peepers to instantly access foliage updates, the foliage spokeswoman said.
“To date, more 1,500 people have signed up to receive the fall foliage reports sent directly to their email address,” Ross said.
More than 17 million acres of Maine forest sustained only minor damage from Tropical Storm Irene, Ross notes.
“Maine came through Tropical Storm Irene, and we’re gearing up for a fantastic fall season,” she said.
Fall foliage hikes at Maine state parks and public reserved lands will be held throughout the reporting season, organized by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands interpretive staff.
The first hike is slated for 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, at Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft and features the Wade Kavanaugh picnic-table sculptures found throughout the park.
More information on the planned foliage hikes, which will be suitable for a variety of hiking abilities, will be released later this month. Interested participants should check the Maine state parks “Event Calendar” located on the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands website.
For more information on the fall foliage site, go to: www.mainefoliage.com
For the Maine foliage Facebook page, look for: Maine Fall Foliage.
For more information on Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: www.parksandlands.com
For more information about MDOC, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc