NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 22, 2012

NH tourism industry expects 'spectacular' fall foliage

With today marking the first day of fall, some people in Southern New Hampshire may start to notice the green leaves slowly changing colors.

But farther north, tourism officials and merchants are seeing green of a different kind.

The foliage this fall is expected to be spectacular, according to Fred Borman, a forestry educator with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

"Overall, I think it's going to be as good of a year as we can expect," said Borman, a forester for 31 years.

Warm, sunny days and cool nights, especially in the last week, are starting to bring out those bright colors, he said. "From what I've seen, the trees are looking pretty healthy," Borman said. "The maples are starting to turn."

That's good news for New Hampshire's tourism industry, which took a hit last fall because of less-than-ideal foliage and the impact of Tropical Storm Irene. Businesses are hoping for a profitable autumn.

An unwelcome combination of above-average rain, heat and humidity — along with a fungus outbreak — led to one of the worst foliage seasons ever last year, according to University of New Hampshire botany professor Barrett Rock.

Instead of seeing the usual bursts of vibrant red and orange leaves, leaf peepers were greeted by yellow, muted foliage.

Tropical Storm Irene's wrath in northern New England was so severe, many travelers canceled their plans. Seeing photos of downed trees and washed-out roads and bridges, especially in Vermont, made them think twice about making a trip.

Although conditions in much of New Hampshire were fine, tourists were still under the impression roads were closed. One tour bus company said 11 motorcoach trips to see foliage were canceled within a two-week period.

But that won't happen again this year, said Tai Freligh, spokesman for the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development.

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