Fall of 2016 has been one for the record books. We’ve had record high temperatures…and we’re in the middle of a deepening drought, which has impacted this fall’s foliage season, and brought about a very serious wildfire concern.
Peak color has come and gone for most areas, but you’ll still see some nice, earthy colors. Oaks are producing a range of color from golden yellows and bronzes to some burgundies. A few maples have held out until now and are turning shades of red, and there’s still some green left in the canopy, which could present some color over the next week or so.
Leaf fall is well underway and will continue for another couple of weeks. That opens up some pretty roadside vistas to see more rock structures and silhouettes of the trees. The leaves make a pretty carpet of yellows, reds and shades of brown, but that’s not necessarily a welcome sight to the wildland firefighters. Those leaves are fresh, cured and aerated forest fuel capable of rapidly spreading a wildfire. They also represent a problem in areas that have already experienced a wildfire over the last month as many of these fire sites are still “holding heat” in the form of stump holes and larger logs, and this fresh leaf fall can allow the area to “reburn.”
Whatever your outdoor plans are this weekend the Georgia Forestry Commission is asking everyone to be extremely careful with any outdoor fire use and to be aware that mechanical equipment, cutting torches, grinders, grading equipment and anything capable of producing a spark or heat is a risk to start a wildfire.
Burn restrictions and bans have been issued in a number of counties and national forests or other public lands across north Georgia, so please seek out more information if you intend to have a campfire, cook over charcoal or other outdoor fire use. If you do see or know about a wildfire call 911 immediately and as these fires can spread quickly do not try to put them out yourself but get to a safe place.