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We are gearing up for Georgia’s Arbor Day. Arbor Day is a day set aside for schools, civic clubs, and other organizations, as well as individuals, to reflect on the importance of trees in our state and across our nation. The first Georgia Arbor Day was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1890. Click on the GFC events page to see what’s happening around the state.

Arbor Day in Georgia is observed each year on the third Friday in February. In 1941, the Georgia General Assembly set this date as the day of our state Arbor Day. National Arbor Day is in April, but it is too warm in April to plant trees in Georgia. Trees should be planted between November and mid-March in Georgia, so they will have a better chance of becoming established before the onset of summer heat.

This month ceremonies will be held across the state at courthouses, schools, and neighborhood parks by more than 130 Georgia cities and college campuses that are members of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA and Tree Campus USA programs. These tree planting and recognition programs help increase public awareness of the importance of trees and the myriad of benefits they provide. The programs seek to instill a greater respect and understanding for trees and the environment, inspire community pride, and create a living environment that will bring peace, joy, and security for generations to come.

The Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA and Tree Line USA materials have arrived in Georgia Forestry Commission offices across the state. Call Susan Granbery at 478-283-0705 if you need assistance with a drop-off or pick-up of materials before your Arbor Day celebration. Hats and lapel pins can now we purchased on the Arbor Day Foundation website, along with additional signage and other celebration materials. The Arbor Day Foundation sends a flag to year-1 recognized cities and every even year after that. See the image below.

Here are some event flyers we’ve received from local communities!

Happy Arbor Day!

A Fond Farewell…

NE GA Fall Leaf Report    

November 20, 2019       

Fall leaf season has, for the most part, come and gone. It has been an interesting season with some unusual patterns in when and where change happened, but it’s been beautiful all the same!

Most mountain areas are seeing most of the leaves coming down, but as you move into the upper Piedmont and in the lower mountain slopes you still can find some pleasing hues.

Species specific:

Sumac – scattered sumacs still showing deep reds.

Maple – Still scattered maple with some good yellow, red and orange.

Beech – starting to see many of the late turning beech with greens going to yellow to gold to buckskin.

Oak – The oaks are the main show now with northern reds and scarlet oaks providing some good deep reds.  Chestnut oak among the oaks providing some yellows.

Sassafras – scattered but still producing some good yellows and oranges.

Sweetgum- still some yellows and purples.

Hickory – Still providing strong yellows and gold but starting to fade.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 

Variable across NE GA.  Overall between 90%-100%.

Lower slopes of the mountains and river corridors in the mountains still providing some earthy colors. Upper piedmont is holding more color and more species with some vibrant color still hanging on.

Even though peak is past and most leaves are on the ground, there are still some opportunities to see scattered color and the muted reds and golds of the oaks.

Scenic drives to enjoy:

GA 60, from Dahlonega to Woody Gap.

GA 180 from Vogel State Park to Wolfpen Gap.

US 76 from Hiawassee to Clayton also continues to provide for some good opportunities.

The Tallulah Falls/Tallulah Gorge State Park area.

GA 136 in the Carter’s Lake area.

GA 136 on the north side of Burnt Mountain.

Lake Burton
GA 136 – Gilmer Co.
Popcorn Overlook – US 76 – Rabun Co.

NOVEMBER 14, 2019 #LeafWatch2019

Daugherty Gap

Northeast:

This past week’s cold front brought rain and wind and has resulted in many leaves coming down. Across much of the region our peak season has come and gone but there is still color to see!

This week we are seeing many of the red oaks starting to peak with deep reds dotting the side slopes of our mountains. Additionally, maples are showing all shades of yellows, reds and orange. The American beech, though a smaller component of the forest, are starting to provide some lemon yellows and oaks such as chestnut oak are providing some good golden yellows.

While the bulk of the color show has come and gone, there will still likely be pockets of color scattered around north GA for another week or more.

Species specifics:

Birch  – still occasional trees holding yellows.

Sourwood – still occasional trees holding reds.

Sumac – scattered sumacs still showing deep reds.

Maple – Still scattered maple with some good yellow, red and orange.

Beech – Just starting to turn with some lemon yellows

Oak – Scarlett oaks providing some good deep reds and chestnut oaks with golden yellows.

Sassafras – scattered but still producing some good yellows and oranges.

Sweetgum- still some yellows and purples..

Hickory – Still many hickories providing strong yellows and gold.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 

Variable across NE GA.  Overall between 90%-100% with higher elevations and other areas dropping leaves rapidly.

Scenic weekend drive:

Even though peak is past there are still some opportunities and any drive through north GA will likely provide some localized bursts of color.

GA 52 from Ellijay to the Fort Mountain State Park area.

GA 52 west of Ellijay

GA 60, from Dahlonega to Woody Gap.

GA 180 from Vogel State Park to Wolfpen Gap.

US 76 from Hiawassee to Clayton also continues to provide for some good opportunities.

The Tallulah Falls/Tallulah Gorge State Park area.

Northwest GA (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Fall foliage color change is nearing 100% completion with very little green left for any species of hardwood. Overlooks and valleys are currently orange and brown, with select areas of yellow.  Hickory and oak are at their peak while maple and sweetgum are still providing some interesting colors.  Hickory stands out this week showing vibrant yellows with brown spots.  Red oak and chestnut oak are fading straight to brown with some yellow; while white oak is showing solid colors of orange and maroon. Maple has faded from deep red to vivid yellow and contributes to the yellow spots provided by hickory. Sweetgum has surpassed its peak as well, but still shows a variety of colors ranging from yellow to maroon.  While many species have surpassed peak color, there are plenty of others remaining. This week is still an excellent time to view fall colors; however, with forecasted low temperatures and moderate winds, it likely will not last much longer.

Species specifics:

Dogwood – has already peaked. Most leaves are gone with a few dull red leaves remaining

Birch – hints of yellow and brown. Many leaves have already dropped

Yellow-poplar – Dropped most of the leaves. Few that remain are yellow or brown.

Sourwood – Red has faded to orange and brown.

Sumac – Deep reds faded to brown and yellow.

Maple – most of the red has faded to vivid yellows with brown.

Birch – Losing leaves rapidly with hints of yellow and brown

Oak – The green has shifted to orange and brown. White oak showing burnt orange and dull red colors. Chestnut oak and red oak have faded to brown with a hint of orange. Hints of yellow in certain areas. Currently at peak in higher elevations. Close to peak in the valleys.

Blackgum – Red has turned to brown or orange on the few leaves that remain.

Sassafras – Remaining leaves are orange or brown.

Sweetgum – Still showing nice colors of dull yellow and maroon.

Hickory – At peak. Currently providing a majority of the yellow seen from overlooks.  They range from vivid yellow with brown spots, to solid brown.

Estimate the percentage of color change from green to date:  90%

Scenic Drive: Take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain from I-75.  Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs hwy / 58. Then take hwy 193 back to hwy 136.

Cloudland Canyon
Hwy 189 overlook
Sunset Rock

The Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA program is using a new portal system this year. Below are helpful tips for completing your application to meet the standards of the Arbor Day Foundation.

  • All Tree City USA communities must reset their passwords to access their application. Click on “Find Your Community” and follow the instructions to login. If you have trouble logging in after following the instructions, please email treecity@arborday.org
  • The City Forestry Contact is a person in your community that answers questions about the Tree City USA program, not your Georgia Forestry Commission forester/ranger.
  • If you have more than five tree board members, please select five and enter the names and emails. Additional members’ information can be uploaded as an attachment. (We do not need individual email addresses and phone numbers for each tree board member, but you must enter something to advance to the next section.)
  • This year, you must upload or link your tree ordinance. Previous entries have not been saved in the new portal.
  • Georgia does not require the annual work plan.
  • Do not use commas, periods, or $-signs in the budget section.
  • Please make sure your Arbor Day Proclamation has the correct date and is signed by the mayor. It must be dated and signed within the 2019 calendar year. 
  • Before you download the Mayor Signature Form, all sections of the application must be complete.
  • If you submit your application and you are not prompted with a message that it has been submitted for review, please scroll to the top of your application to see what needs to be updated.
  • To apply for the Growth Award online, the community must first submit their Tree City USA application. Once they do, if they qualify to apply for the Growth Award they will be invited to start their application. At any time after they apply to as a Tree City USA they can log back into the portal and click on the link to start their Growth Award application.

Use this Helpful video for more information about the Tree City USA portal.

For questions, contact Bonny Adams, badams@gfc.state.ga.us, 478-751-3498 or Susan Granbery, sgranbery@gfc.state.ga.us, 478-283-0705.

These communities have been approved as of November 14, 2019: Albany, Ashburn, Athens-Clarke County, Berkeley Lake, Bethlehem, Buckhead, Calhoun, Cedartown, Conyers, Decatur, Duluth, Dunwoody, Flovilla, Gray, Griffin, Hahira, Kennesaw, Lavonia, Lilburn, Loganville, Macon, Newnan, Odum, Robins AFB, Screven, Statesboro, Thomaston, Toccoa, Valdosta, Vienna, Warner Robins, Woodland, Woodstock.

These communities are in progress as of November 14, 2019: Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Ball Ground, Bowersville, Bowman, Camak, Chamblee, Chattahoochee Hills, Jesup, Covington, Dublin, Fayetteville, Hartwell, Holly Springs, Ivey, Jekyll Island, Locust Grove, Lylerly, Madison, Mansfield, Monroe, Moultrie, Norwood, Oxford, Peachtree Corners, Porterdale, Rome, Sandersville, Sandy Springs, Savannah, Snellville, St. Marys, Summerville, Tallulah Falls, Thomasville, Thunderbolt, Tifton, Warrenton, Winterville.

The Georgia Forestry Commission is also reviewing Growth Award applications.

Tree Campus USA and Tree Line USA Portals

Tree Campus USA Portal: https://applications.arborday.org/community/campus

These campuses have been approved: Georgia Gwinnett College and College of Coastal Georgia. These campuses are in progress: Agnes Scott College, Albany Technical College.

Tree Line USA Portal: https://applications.arborday.org/community/utility for utility partners.

Last week, the Georgia Tree Council held their annual conference, “A Greener Path for All: Trees and Equity, Community Collaboration, and Building the Future Workforce,” in Stone Mountain Park. On Wednesday, November 6, the Georgia Forestry Commission hosted a pre-conference Tree Board Roundtable to engage 25 Georgia tree board members from Glynn County to Rome in a discussion about their challenges and building capacity in Georgia’s Tree City USA communities.

Facilitators, Susan Russell and Mark Wiles, asked participants about their challenges. Here are a few responses.

  • Need more ways to engage in social media.
  • Need advice on encouraging our city council to have a broader vision for the urban forest.
  • Concern about the quality of tree care work being done by contractors and utilities.
  • Concern about the conservation of greenspace.
  • Looking for a county urban forestry recognition program (Like Tree City USA).
  • There is a need for heat island reduction and green stormwater infrastructure.
  • Need more volunteers for workdays!
  • Cities have old, mature trees that need to be removed.
  • Getting the respect of elected leaders.
  • Too much paving.
  • The tree board should be given a budget by the city so they don’t have to find the money, they can just get to work.

Some suggestions for getting the city council support for the tree board included showing how trees support tourism in communities, like they do in Marietta, creating an atmosphere that puts the city on the map. Some cities use iTree tools to calculate canopy cover, and the National Tree Benefit Calculator to measure the benefits of individual trees in the front yards of their elected leaders.

Tips for finding and retaining members included utilizing the skills of Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, partnering with corporate volunteers like they do in Alpharetta, and Boy and Girl Scouts.

As board members retire from your board, look for new members at local banks, developers, and homeowner’s associations.

We welcome your comments, suggestions and tips for building tree board capacity in your communities.

GA 180 roadside
Cloudland Canyon
North GA Fall Leaf Report     November 6, 2019 #GALeafWatch2019  
Text Box:

Northwest GA (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau): SUMMARY:

In the higher elevations, fall foliage reached its peak over the weekend. Many of the vibrant colors have since faded to duller shades of orange, red and brown. Hickory is approaching its best color, just in time to replace the vivid yellow colors of yellow poplar. Lower areas should be approaching peak this following weekend.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  65%

Scenic weekend drive for  NW GA: Take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain from I-75.  Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs hwy / 58. Then take Hwy 193 back to hwy 136.

Northeast GA: SUMMARY:

We saw peak come and go at the highest elevations over the last week, with some nice warm shades providing beautiful vistas, especially in the early and late light. With some of the early turners now shedding leaves along the roads you can actually see deeper into the forest and enjoy some of these understory species. This season, color development at the higher elevations was slow to develop and was more muted and had a short life once it arrived. Other areas of north GA have and are presenting a wide variety of shades and tones from muted to brilliant. Color is more scattered and more prominent in younger, roadside trees and understory currently than in the overall canopies.

Once again this week, the sourwoods, the maples, and the hickories are providing the best color with reds, reds to orange and bright yellows to golden yellows being presented respectively.

Though to date, this has not been one of our better years in NE GA, there is color to be found and with the forecast for this weekend being almost perfect, it will be a great time to be out in north GA.

SPECIES SPECIFICS:

Dogwood – most of the dogwoods have offered what they could and are dropping leaves.

Birch  – still providing some yellows ranging from lemon to gold.

Yellow-poplar – on the way out but there are still some waiting to begin the change.

Sourwood – continues provide some brilliant reds and burgandies this week.

Sumac – providing some very good and deep reds.

Maple – Some very good reds and orange currently in the maples but still a contingent just starting to transition.

Oak – starting to see some of the oaks adding to both yellow and red but also seeing some browning up.

Blackgum – still seeing some blackgum providing some striking reds.

Sassafras – Primarily in the understory and along shaded roadways the sassafras is producing some very good yellows and oranges.

Hickory – Still many hickories providing strong yellows and gold.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 

Variable across NE GA.  Highest elevations (above 3500’) at 100% and past peak.

Overall between 20% (western side of the Blue Ridge) to 80% (eastern side of the Blue Ridge) with some pockets in the extreme NE section running 80+%. 

Suggested scenic weekend drive: 

Traveling through different elevations will provide a good chance to see color.

GA 60, from Morganton to Suches and then to Dahlonega or from Suches to Vogel State Park on GA 180/Wolfpen Gap Road continues to provide some excellent roadside and understory color.

And, US 76 from Hiawassee to Clayton also continues to provide for some good color as well as GA 197 running from US 76 to Clarkesville passing Lake Burton and Moccasin Creek State Park.

NORTHEAST: (SUMMARY):

It looks like fall has finally made it to northeast GA and the southern Blue Ridge Mountains…at least in places. Color has kicked in at our expected locations and those are the higher elevations of NE GA. Brasstown Bald on the Towns/Union County boundary and Georgia’s highest point is currently in full transition, though most of the highest elevation colors are running more earthy tones with dusty reds, golds and bronze. However, on the shoulder of Brasstown and at other select locations within the region, bright reds and golds are easy to find. Also, color will likely be short lived at these highest points with some rain and wind in the forecast, so keep that in mind for your planning.

Currently we are seeing more color on the east side of the Blue Ridge chain though the changes that precede full color are occurring across the western side. This observation was made as we were putting our weekly report together and by this weekend we could be seeing some color changes, so if you are out exploring those areas, keep your eyes peeled!

This week the sourwoods along with some of the maples continue to provide us with the most vibrant color with both giving us some brilliant reds and the maples also adding to the yellows and orange shades.  And, the mighty hickory has really blossomed across the region providing excellent yellows and golds across many locations in the region. The blackgum and sumac continue to provide some very good reds and the birch are still producing strong yellows. The yellow poplars have for the most part completed their assignment of providing us with early yellows and gold. Oaks are getting in on the action with some reds and yellows, but expect to see more of them as we get on into November.

This year’s leaf show should continue to provide some good color over the next 10 days to two weeks, and we hope to see further action with the oaks providing some yellows, deep reds, and bronze even deeper into November.

SPECIES DETAILS:

Dogwood – continuing to see some dusty reds and burgundies but they have about done their due for the year.

Birch  – still providing some yellows ranging from lemon to gold.

Yellow-poplar – on the way out but there are still some waiting to begin the change.

Sourwood – continues provide some brilliant reds and burgundies this week.

Sumac – providing some very good and deep reds.

Maple – Some very good reds and orange currently in the maples but still a large contingent just starting to transition.

Oak – starting to see some of the oaks adding to both yellow and red but most have another week or so before fully turning.

Blackgum – Along with the sourwoods, blackgum continues to have some of the best reds at the moment.

Sassafras – Primarily in the understory and along shaded roadways the sassafras is producing some very good yellows and oranges.

Sweetgum – starting to see some sweetgum changing showing yellows though currently a minor component.  Hopefully we will see further development with yellows and purples.

Hickory – Big changes this week with many hickories providing strong yellows and gold.

Percent of color change from green to date: 

Variable across NE GA.  Highest elevations (above 3500’) approaching 100%. Overall between 10% (western side of the Blue Ridge) to 50% (eastern side of the Blue Ridge) with some pockets in the extreme NE section running 80+%. 

It looks like we are moving into our “peak” season this weekend understanding that we define “peak” as the period in which the most color can be found throughout the region. And, as such, as you travel through NE GA you will drive through areas that are in or very close to being full transition and then find a section that is less so. As the early transitioning locations start to move out of “peak” others are moving in. So, while we are entering this period of greatest color, know that all locations are not equal.

Even though we are seeing some much needed rain, our forests are still being impacted by the drought and that will continue. We are seeing more muted color at higher elevations but we are also seeing some vibrant color develop in many lower elevations so there is plenty of reason to hope that this will continue across the area over the next several weeks.

Given the extremely dry weather we continue to urge the public to be extremely careful if using equipment, grills, cookers and any other items capable of creating sparks in the outdoors.

Scenic drive:

A drive to Brasstown and the Richard Russell Scenic Highway are great choices for color this weekend. Try GA 180 Spur to Brasstown or GA 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Hwy).

GA 180 running from Suches to Vogel State Park continues to provide current color with more to come.

US 76 from Hiawassee to Clayton also continues to provide for some good color.

And, US 129 from Cleveland to Blairsville over Neel Gap should offer some color to see.

Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Color change in the mountains is approaching its peak. Overlooks and valleys are becoming more colorful every day with spots of brown, yellow, and red. Maple, sourwood, and sumac are still showing the most vibrant colors of red; while few have already peaked and began fading to maroon and brown. Oaks are steadily turning brown while some add faint signs of yellow. Poplar and some maples account for most of the yellow; however, the hickories that aren’t completely brown, are turning yellow as well. Understory sassafras remains vibrant showing colors of red and orange. A majority of dogwoods have surpassed climax and continue to dull and shed leaves. Hardwoods in the higher elevations should reach their peak color change this weekend, while lower elevations should fall close behind. The forecast indicates periods of heavy rain followed by cooler temperatures.This should encourage color change, assuming the rain and wind doesn’t get too intense.

Percentage of color change from green to date:  45%

SCENIC DRIVE:

From I-75, take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain.. Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs Hwy /58.  Then take Hwy 193 back to Hwy 136.

NORTHEAST:

SUMMARY: Our nights are definitely feeling more like fall and leaf change has accelerated in some areas of northeast GA this week, while other areas are still trying to get a good run going. In the areas where change has really kicked in, we are seeing color along roadsides and developing color on side slopes and ridges. Currently, the areas with the most consistent color are in extreme northeast GA to include the Tallulah, Chattooga and Hiawassee River watersheds in Rabun and Towns Counties.  Another area is the Suches/Lake Winfield Scott/Wolf Pen Gap area. In other areas, roadside color can be found, but overall, canopies are still shades of green. Somewhat odd is the fact that lower elevations running between 2000 and 3000 feet elevation seem to be changing sooner that the higher elevations that normally develop some of the first color. However, the upper slopes and mountains are showing color and hopefully will continue to develop.

The best news this week is that there does not appear to be new pockets of drought damage resulting in the total brown-up of the foliage as we have seen develop over the last several weeks.

Sourwood has really kicked in along roadsides, especially in the mentioned areas with bright reds and burgundies, and the blackgum and sumac are adding to these bright red shades.  Birch continues to provide some yellows and golds and yellow poplar has kicked back in with a second wave adding to the yellows. Hickories are contributing occasional bright, yellow golds. Maples as well as sassafras are providing some reds, yellows and orange and sweetgum is providing yellows and some muted purples.

NORTHWEST GA:

Overlooks and valleys are steadily gaining spots of color; however, aside from higher elevations, everything is still predominantly green to light green with hints of yellow and brown.

Maple, sourwood, and sumac are showing the most vivid colors ranging from bright red to maroon.  Oak is still fading from green to brown while hickory is fading to yellow or brown depending on the location. Poplar and lower elevation maples are providing the most vivid yellow colors. Sweetgum is also fading to yellow but the colors are much less vivid. Dogwoods have reached their peak for color change and are beginning to dull and shed leaves. The forecast shows stable temperatures with a good percentage of rain which should encourage color shifts throughout the next week.

Species specifics:

Dogwood – continuing to see some dusty reds and burgundies.

Birch  – still providing some yellows ranging from lemon to gold.

Yellow-poplar – a second wave of yellow poplars have kicked in over a number of areas.

Redbud – some yellows but currently not a big player.

Sourwood – continues to show the most increase in change this week with many roadside trees running pink to deep burgundy and some bright reds.

Sumac – additional change showing this week along roadsides.

Maple – Continues to show signs of transition with some individual trees and some groups in full color.  Currently deep to dusty reds with some bright reds developing as well as yellows and oranges occasionally.

Blackgum – Along with the sourwoods, blackgum continues to have some of the best reds at the moment.

Sassafras – Continuing to see yellows and orange in the understory

Sweetgum- starting to see some sweetgum changing showing yellows though currently a minor component.  Hopefully we will see further development with yellows and purples.

Hickory – Seeing some change in the hickories with occasional yellows and golds.

PERCENTAGE OF color change from green to date:

Variable across NE GA. Some parts of extreme NE GA 30%-50%. Others still predominantly shades of green with color running 10%-20%.

Peak.

Some localized areas in the Tallulah, Chattooga, and Hiawassee River watersheds may start approaching peak in the next week as well as the Wolf Pen Gap area to Suches. However, most areas seem to still be another week or more out, but with the rapid changes some areas saw this past week, this may get here faster than expected.

 DROUGHT IMPACT:

Even though we are seeing some much needed rain, our forests are still being impacted by the drought. However, as we are seeing good color develop is some areas currently there is plenty of reason to hope that this will continue across the area over the next several weeks.

** Given the extremely dry weather we continue to urge the public to be extremely careful if using equipment, grills, cookers and any other items capable of creating sparks in the outdoors.  (And, to contact the GA Forestry Commission for a burn permit and up to date information on the weather and burning conditions.)

 Scenic drives:
Options at lower elevations include US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee and US 441 from Clarkesville to Dillard.

The GA Power lakes… Burton, Seed and Rabun continue to be an area with consistent color.  Try GA 197 from Clarkesville to US 76 or turn off GA 197 onto Seed Lake Road.

Also, GA 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Highway) in White and Union Counties as well as GA 180 running from Suches to Vogel State Park, and then also GA 180 from Vogel to Jack’s Gap and then GA 180 Spur to Brasstown continue to provide some color.

North Georgia Fall Leaf Report – October 17

NORTHEAST:

Cooler temps and some scattered showers have brought some relief, but fall leaf change is still moving slowly. Overall, canopies are still shades of green with pinpoints of color across ridges and slopes. Roadside color is becoming more common as the sourwoods have started to become the main attraction with pinks, reds and burgundies. The maples, blackgum, dogwood and sumac continue to provide reds along our roads. Also, the yellow poplar, birch, and this week the occasional hickory, are showing yellows.

We do continue to see development of drought-damaged patches along or around rocky ridges, rock faces or slopes with shallow soils. These will be obvious as you travel around GA this fall.

SPECIES SPECIFICS:

Dogwood – continuing to see some dusty reds and burgundies, but still early

Birch – early yellows fading, but more change to come

Yellow-poplar – much of the early turning leaves have dropped and the remaining green leaves are on hold with color; Still change to come.

Sourwood – continues to show the most increase in change this week with many roadside trees running pink to deep burgundy and some bright reds. Still plenty yet to join in.

Sumac – additional change showing this week along roadsides.

Maple – Continues to show signs of transition with some individual trees and some groups in full color. Currently deep to dusty reds but some yellows and oranges should be developing later this fall.

Blackgum – Along with the sourwoods, blackgum continues to have some of the best reds at the moment.

Sassafras – Continuing to see yellows and orange in the understory

Sweetgum- starting to see some sweetgum changing showing yellows, though currently a minor compontent. Hoping for further development with yellows and purples.

Hickory – Starting to see some change in the hickories with occasional yellows and golds.

Percentage of color change from green to date:  Unchanged from last week. 

Highest elevations, 5%-10%. Below 3500 feet, still less than 5%

Much of north GA remains in extreme to severe drought. Though some areas have seen some shower activity this past week, it will take multiple rain systems to break the drought.

Given the extremely dry weather we continue to urge the public to be extremely careful if using equipment, grills, cookers and any other items capable of creating sparks in the outdoors.  And, contact the GA Forestry Commission for a burn permit before attempting any outdoor burning.

SCENIC NE GA DRIVE: Upper elevations showing more color, but still a week or more from serious change. Drought damage continues to be evident as you travel the mountains.

GA 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Highway) in White and Union Counties as well as GA 180 running from Suches to Vogel State Park and then also GA 180 from Vogel to Jack’s Gap and then GA 180 Spur to Brasstown Bald will provide the best opportunities this week.

Options at lower elevations include US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee and GA 52 between Ellijay and Chatsworth. Just keep in mind that while bursts of color are possible around any turn, the greens still rule this week.

New this week is some roadside color development in some additional lower elevations including the GA Power lakes… Burton, Seed and Rabun. GA 197 from Clarkesville to US 76 or turn off GA 197 on to Seed Lake Road.

NORTHWEST:

The effects of drought have become more apparent as temperatures drop. Overlooks and ridges are fading from green to light green with large areas of brown particularly towards ridge tops with less water retention. Along river corridors, creeks, and bottoms with higher water retention, vibrant colors are becoming more apparent.  Sycamore, poplar, and hickory are showing shades of yellow and brown while red maples are gradually shifting from green to red. Blackgum in the higher elevations are gradually shifting to red.  Dogwoods are showing shades of pink and yellow.  Hickory and oak have continued to turn brown and drop leaves. The forecast shows lower temperatures with scattered rain showers which should encourage vibrant color shifts throughout the next week.

SCENIC NW GA DRIVE: Take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain from I-75. Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga and take Hwy 193 back to Hwy 136.

NORTHEAST:

After an onslaught of record setting high temperatures, we are finally getting some relief with highs this week in the mountains in the 70’s! And, we have had and hopefully will see some scattered shower activity across north Georgia in the next week. While these shower opportunities are welcomed, the drought that has been tightening its grip on GA continues to make itself known. Over the last week we have seen new pockets of trees browning up and pockets of brown topped trees that were already evident have increased in size. Most of these are located on and around rocky knobs and mountain tops, along rocky ridges or on slopes with rock outcrops or shallow underlying rock. These also more commonly occur on the south and west facing slopes as these slopes receive the most direct sunlight thus greater drying.  We are likely to see these impacts continue to develop until we get a significant break in the drought situation.  

In spite of such, we are seeing signs that fall is underway and colors continue to develop.  Green continues to dominate the north GA canopies and this week new color development seems slowed.  Even so, when you look closely you do see the telltale signs that changes are happening.

The yellow poplar provided some of the first color this season as is usual but now many of the early turning leaves have dropped leaving some trees with very thin canopy and some with green, unchanged leaves holding.  The effect is that some of our yellow component is lessened this week and in some places giving the impression we “got greener”.  However, the birch, while fading some, are still providing splashes of yellow on roadsides as well as some yellow poplar.  The biggest gain of the week is that the sourwoods have become a little more pronounced and they are starting to make themselves known more along roadsides.  Dogwoods continue to show some earthy reds but many are showing signs of stress.  And the other players from last week, the blackgum and sumac with their reds and the sassafras with yellows, reds and orange continue to hold color.

SPECIES DETAILS:

Yellow-poplar – much of the early turning leaves have dropped and the remaining green leaves are on hold with color so this week some lessening of the impact the yellow poplar was providing. Still change to come.

Sourwood – showing the most increase in change this week with many roadside trees running pink to deep burgundy and some bright reds. Still plenty yet to join in.

Sumac – holding some early bright reds

Maple – Continues to show signs of transition with some individual trees and some groups in full color. Currently deep to dusty reds but some yellows and oranges hopefully will be also developing later this fall.

Blackgum – Along with the sourwoods, blackgum continues to have some of the best reds at the moment.

Sassafras – Continuing to see yellows and orange in the understory.

Sweetgum- starting to see some sweetgum changing showing yellows, though currently a minor component.  Hopefully we will see further development with yellows and purples.

Percentage of color change from green to date:  Highest elevations 5%-10%. 

Below 3500 feet still less than 5%.

Is a good season expected?  Why?  What will be peak season this year?

New color development hit pause this week and this sometimes happens.  But given the unchartered ground we have been in with the record temps in September, we will see if this is a drought/temperature inflicted ailment or simply Mother Nature taking a deep breath before cranking things up.  The good news right now is that other than the pockets of trees in the drought damaged pockets related to shallow soil and underlying rock, many of the trees seem to be fairing okay.

Describe any impact of rain, wind, drought or frost on leaf color this week and/or this season in general?

Last week, much of north GA was listed being in either Extreme Drought or Severe Drought with a few counties listed as Moderate Drought or Abnormally Dry. Though some areas have seen some shower activity this past week, it takes time for drought to develop and time and multiple rain systems to break a drought. 

Given the extremely dry weather we continue to urge the public to be extremely careful if using equipment, grills, cookers and any other items capable of creating sparks in the outdoors.  And, to contact the GA Forestry Commission for a burn permit and up to date information on the weather and burning conditions including whether we are issuing permits on a given day before attempting any outdoor burning.  And, if burning please stay with your burn and have sufficient personnel, tools and if possible water on site to help insure your burn does not escape.

The first little run of change may have just been a tease as this week things have slowed. This year’s early change in a few trees that, year after year are the first to turn, got us excited when they were in full color change on September 10, much earlier than normal.  The next few weeks will determine whether they hold true this year or whether they have pranked us! Upper elevations showing potential but could still be two weeks or so away from peak. Mid and lower elevations usually a week or so behind the upper elevation trees. Drought damage is evident as you travel the mountains. Specifically, you can see this damage on iconic Yonah Mountain outside of Cleveland, along the south slopes of Horse Range Mountain north of 75 Alt in White County and east of Hiawassee and just west of Dick’s Creek Gap on the north side of US 76.

Scenic drives: While not the prime week to go just for the leaves, if you find yourself in North GA and would like to see what is happening, the upper elevations continue to be the best bet.  GA 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Highway) in White and Union Counties as well as GA 180 running from Suches to Vogel State Park and then also GA 180 from Vogel to Jack’s Gap and then GA 180 Spur to Brasstown Bald will provide the best opportunities this week. 

Options at lower elevations include US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee and GA 52 between Ellijay and Chatsworth.  Just keep in mind that while bursts of color are possible around any turn, the greens still rule this week.

Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Poplar in the higher elevations are showing the most color with shades of yellow and some brown.  Sassafrass is gradually fading to orange with hints of red. Oak leaves are continuing to brown further dropping their leaves at a steady rate. A select few maples in the higher altitudes are shifting from green to red, but the majority of them have shifted from green to light green with spots of yellow.   Dogwoods are slowly progressing to shades of yellow and orange.  Sweetgum is still predominantly green with spots of yellow and brown. Hickory continues to brown and shed leaves without any vibrant color changes. Overlooks and ridges are still predominately green to light green with spots of brown and yellow. The weather has shifted abruptly over the weekend including a significant amount of rain and lower forecasted temperatures throughout the following weeks. 

Percentage of color change from green to date: 10%

Scenic Drive:

Take Hwy 136 from I-75.  Turn left on Hwy 157 on top of Lookout Mountain (Or continue on Hwy 157 to go to Cloudland Canyon). Turn left on Daughtery Gap Rd to come out in front of Mountain Cove Farms.  Turn right on Hog Jawl Rd. Turn right on Hwy 193 and follow back into Lafayette. Turn right on South Main Street. Turn left on Hwy 27 Bypass and follow to the next intersection to get back on Hwy 136.