Vermont's Official Foliage Forecaster | Driving with the Leaf Spotter
And that’s pretty much the way it went for the rest of the day: Snyder talking about people and the land as we drove back into Groton State Forest and to Ricker Pond, then hiked up to a bigger landscape picture from Owl’s Head, where recent patch cuts showing state woodcock-management areas stood out like scars in the forested carpet. Back out 302 through Orange and around to Route 110 through Washington and Chelsea, past still-green tamarack swamps and 90-percent sugar-maple hillsides in full blush, past new horse farms and struggling old dairies and cottage woodworking businesses.
I told Snyder about my image of aerial photography and remote sensors. “Well, you could call my truck ‘Foliage Central,’” he replied. “During this whole drive I’ve been receiving inputs and cataloguing data. We have 12 county foresters doing the same thing. They submit reports to me twice a week during foliage season about what they’re seeing on the ground, and what they’re hearing from the landowners who are most connected to the land. I use my judgment to try and turn their reports into numbers. I guess as far as the forecasting goes, I’m proud to say that it still comes mostly from local knowledge.”
On the Goose Green Road shortcut heading home toward Route 25 and the Waits River Valley, Snyder pointed out a ridgeline of tan- and brown-tinged sugar maples. The drabness looked drought-related, but Snyder knew the landowner and made a note to himself to call and see whether he’d had trouble with pear thrips along that ridge. “Trees are resilient,” he said, “but they can’t move.”
He could just as easily have been talking about a state’s people. “They have to deal with any stresses right where they are,” Snyder added. “That dance of stress and resiliency plays out in a color scheme.”