Okla., Ark., fall foliage in limbo due to drought
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Summer-long drought conditions that have plagued Oklahoma and Arkansas have left in limbo the usual explosion of fall foliage colors that attract tourists to both states.
Trees in both the Ozark and the Ouachita national forests that spread into the two states typically provide a panorama of red, green and yellow leaves and are destinations for those seeking fall colors.
Foresters say those trees are shedding many of their leaves now — two months early.
"Basically, the number of hardwood trees going dormant or browning is noticeable in both the Ozark and Ouachita national forests, said U.S. National Forest spokeswoman Tracy Farley.
"I haven't heard anyone talk about having a spectacular fall," Farley said.
Rainfall now could change that outlook, according to both Farley and Craig Marquardt, an Oklahoma Forestry Services district forester in Talihina in southeastern Oklahoma. The Talimena National Scenic Byway stretches through the Ouachita forest from Mena, Ark., to Talihina.
More than 53 percent of Arkansas was rated as in exceptional drought — the worst category — early in August, and 48 percent of Oklahoma was in exceptional drought in late August, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Rainfall now "would be really beneficial. The trees could use a good drink of water," Marquardt said. "It'll be nothing but good for the trees."
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