Allegheny National Forest to Host Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Celebration on August 10

WARREN, Pa. – The USDA Forest Service – Allegheny National Forest is hosting Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday celebration on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at the Kinzua Beach pavilion area.

The event is from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

In addition to wishing Smokey Bear a Happy Birthday, the forest service will have several activities for children to interact with Smokey, engage with forest service staff, and learn about the forest and fire safety.

Be on the lookout for children’s contest opportunities on the Allegheny National Forest social media page.

Learn more about Smokey Bear at https://smokeybear.com/en.

Smokey Bear’s History:

On August 9, 1944, the creation of Smokey Bear was authorized by the Forest Service. Two months later a poster depicting a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire was delivered by artist Albert Staehle. Smokey Bear soon became popular, and his image began appearing on more posters and cards.

By 1952, Smokey Bear began to attract commercial interest. An Act of Congress passed which removed Smokey from the public domain and placed him under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Act provided for the use of collected royalties and fees for continued wildfire prevention education.

Though he has already accomplished so much, Smokey’s work is far from over. Wildfire prevention remains crucial, and he still needs your help. His catchphrase reflects your responsibility: Only you can prevent wildfires. Remember that this phrase is so much more than just a slogan: it’s an important way to care for the world around you.

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The Story of Smokey Bear

One spring day in 1950, in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, an operator in one of the fire towers spotted smoke and called the location in to the nearest ranger station. The first crew discovered a major wildfire sweeping along the ground between the trees, driven by a strong wind. Word spread rapidly, and more crews reported to help. Forest rangers, local crews from New Mexico and Texas, and the New Mexico State Game Department set out to gain control of the raging wildfire.

As the crew battled to contain the blaze, they received a report of a lone bear cub seen wandering near the fire line. They hoped that the mother bear would return for him. Soon, about 30 of the firefighters were caught directly in the path of the fire storm. They survived by lying face down on a rockslide for over an hour as the fire burned past them.

Nearby, the little cub had not fared as well. He took refuge in a tree that became completely charred, escaping with his life but also badly burned paws and hind legs. The crew removed the cub from the tree, and a rancher among the crew agreed to take him home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish ranger heard about the cub when he returned to the fire camp. He drove to the rancher’s home to help get the cub on a plane to Santa Fe, where his burns were treated and bandaged.

Rescued!

News about the little bear spread swiftly throughout New Mexico. Soon, the United Press and Associated Press broadcast his story nationwide, and many people wrote and called, asking about the cub’s recovery. The state game warden wrote to the chief of the Forest Service, offering to present the cub to the agency as long as the cub would be dedicated to a conservation and wildfire prevention publicity program. The cub was soon on his way to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear.

Smokey received numerous gifts of honey and so many letters he had to have his own zip code. He remained at the zoo until his death in 1976, when he was returned to his home to be buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico, where he continues to be a wildfire prevention legend.

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