The Charlotte Observer offers a great graphic explaining why leaves change color. This is a good classroom or family discussion and lesson in science - weather, plants, chemistry, biology and more.
Leaves changing color in October and November offer a terrific opportunity for civic learning, too. The Observer graphic includes a map of North Carolina and the progression of leaf color from the mountains to the coast.
Fall foliage is a multi-million dollar natural resource for some communities in our state. Buncombe County, where Asheville is located, expects to welcome 350,000 leaf-watchers with an economic impact of $225 million over the next few weeks. Tourist dollars help local businesses to sell products, food and hotel rooms. The county collects sales tax. This helps to support county-funded services including schools, parks, libraries and social services.
How do leaves turning impact a community? What would you do if you were:
- Responsible for developing communications to tourists coming to see fall foliage. How do you get your message across?
- A local government official setting the sales tax rates and budget. What happens in years when the leaf color is better - or worse - than others?
- A government leader balancing the interests of businesses, residents and tourists. What if a business wants to develop a wooded property that can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway? What if a neighborhood street is so busy every October and November that you can't cross it safely?
- The economic development official in another part of the state. Do you have a natural resource like the trees in the mountains? If not, how do you generate tourism to impact your local economy?