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Start planning for Maine's fall foliage season

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AUGUSTA While the State of Maine is enjoying an abundance of sunshine and beautiful late summer weather, now is the time to start planning your fall foliage trip. Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and the Maine Office of Tourism will provide an update on gradual change in leaf color from north to south culminating in peak conditions in late October.

'Maine fall foliage is world-renowned and draws visitors from all over the country and around the globe,' said Governor Paul R. LePage. 'The fall foliage season is an example of how Maine welcomes visitors and is Open for Business.' Anyone can see the best places to go by visiting the fall foliage website and through weekly foliage updates.'

DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb noted that the Department's forestry employees have been reporting foliage color changing conditions since 1959. 'The Department's fall foliage website got over 500,000 page views last year,' said Whitcomb. 'Many people and businesses use Maine's fall foliage season to showcase products, events and the beauty of the entire state. We encourage families to enjoy this colorful season and use the website and weekly foliage updates to plan trips this month into October.'

Maine's official fall foliage website: www.mainefoliage.com has a number of resources, links to scenic byways and to the Maine office of tourism. State officials are optimistic that the 2015 fall foliage season will be spectacular.

According to Bill Ostrofsky, forest pathologist within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, 'The overall timing of peak color change will be near average this year about the last week in September through the first week in October for the Augusta area; a bit earlier North, and a bit later South. With a return to cooler temperatures (more typical of what we have seen all year, with the exception of the past 10 days or so), we should be in for a glorious season.'

To produce the weekly report on fall foliage conditions, DACF forest rangers submit on-the-ground observations each week throughout the reporting season (Sept. 9 through Oct. 21, with a final report on Oct. 28 if needed) at www.mainefoliage.com Maine's official fall foliage website. The site includes a map indicating current foliage conditions with a useful foliage color key that is updated weekly. Visitors to the site can also find information on Facebook.

While navigating the website, leaf peepers can register to receive weekly reports and submit their favorite fall foliage photos. The site also provides information about complimentary ranger-led fall foliage tours in Maine State Parks.

Generally, the northern region of Maine is at or near peak the last week of September into the first week of October. Central, Southern and Western mountains are nearing peak conditions Oct. 6 through Oct. 18. Coastal Maine reaches peak conditions Oct. 13 through 25.

Now is the time to plan a late-September getaway to Zone 6 and 7 in northeastern and northwestern Maine which includes Fort Kent, Caribou and Presque Isle to experience the first colors of autumn. There are scenic driving tours recommended on www.mainefoliage.com for the St. John Valley Cultural Byway and the Aroostook County circuit.

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