Despite the dry weather and drought conditions that many areas in Maine suffered this summer, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said she expects fall foliage to be as vibrant as previous years.

Gale Ross said that while some regions in Maine, such as York County, are “probably pretty dry” and green, a majority of the state is seeing foliage that “seems more vibrant than in past years.”

“I’m no scientist, but our foliage seems really brilliant this year, in spite of not having much rain this summer,” Ross said. “The colors really seem to have really emerged over the last week or so.”

Every week, the department releases a map of Maine split into seven zones: Northeastern Maine, including Fort Kent, Caribou, and Presque Isle; Northwestern Maine, Western Mid-Maine, including Greenville, Rangeley, and Bethel; Eastern Mid-Maine, including Houlton, Millinocket, and Calais; Central and Southwestern Maine, including Bangor, Augusta, and Fryeburg; Downeast Maine, including Machias and Bar Harbor, and Mid-Coast and South Coastal Maine.

The map ranks each zone’s foliage conditions on a scale of “very low,” to “past peak.”

Ross said the most recent fall foliage report released on Oct. 5 revealed that much of Western Maine’s trees, including those in Oxford Hills, would have leaves in peak condition throughout Columbus Day weekend and into the following week.

Right now, Oxford Hills, located in both Zones 3 and 5, has some leaves at their peak in terms of color and others with moderate color.

The most recent foliage report also revealed that much of northern Maine was “reaching peak conditions for color,” Ross said.

Ross said the color “progresses from north to south.”

“Canada is reaching peak foliage conditions at the same time as northern Maine, and as time goes on, the leaves in the south start changing,” Ross said.

Ross said the department relies on the observation of forest and park rangers throughout the state for updates on foliage conditions.

“Sometimes, we’ll have one forest ranger who says that an area is not in peak foliage condition, and another who says it is,” Ross said. “In that case, we bring in a third ranger for another opinion. We’re very careful about making sure we have accurate information.”

Although much of Maine suffered summer drought conditions, Ross said the quality of fall foliage is “really all about whether the trees are healthy.”

“If they’re healthy and disease-free, then there’s not going to be much of a change,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to take a guess as to what would happen if we continued with drought conditions in future years, but right now, things seem to be on track.”

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