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Showing posts from October, 2013

Observing Trees

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I drove to Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Parka few days ago to see how the fall colors were coming on. The gap is one of the few accessible locations in the Smokies during the current shut-down of non-essential federal operations, including National Parks. For a few months I've been monitoring a plot of 20 trees at Newfound Gap as a "citizen scientist" for a phenology project. October is a critical month for tree phenology and I felt terrible missing the opportunity to do observations because the park is closed. Who knew I could miss a handful of yellow birch, yellow buckeye, and sugar maples so much? Once access to Newfound Gap was restored, I couldn't wait to go see my trees!

The leaves in the Smokies were at about 75% of peak above 4,500 ft, last Wednesday, including a favorite sugar maple (Acer saccharum) near the sidewalk at Newfound Gap. In years past, this tree had vibrant yellow-orange foliage, but not this year. This year it was yellow-b…