Taos Celebrates Smokey’s 70th Birthday

Courtesy/CNF

STATE News:

Carson National Forest, Taos Bureau of Land Management and the Town of Taos are joining to host a birthday party 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Aug. 9 in honor of Smokey Bear’s 70th Birthday.

Smokey’s Birthday celebration will include a birthday cake, songs, games, a Smokey Bear poster exhibit and an opportunity for children to have their picture taken with Smokey.  Special guests at the birthday celebration will be surviving members of the Taos Pueblo firefighting crew, the Snowballs, who will recount the story of the discovery of Smokey Bear on a fire in the Capitan Mountains.

The history of Smokey Bear dates back to 1942 when the USDA Forest Service asked the Ad Council, then known as The War Advertising Council, to help inform citizens about what they could do to help prevent forest fires.  In 1950, a black bear cub was rescued from a fire in Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico.  He was brought to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and became the living symbol of forest fire prevention.

Since his birthday on Aug. 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of conservation and protection of America’s forests. His message about wildfire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres lost annually to wildfires, from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.7 million annually today.

However, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country. Many Americans believe that lightening starts most wildfires. In fact, 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are started by humans. Wildfires sparked by humans are most commonly caused by campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials, BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.

Smokey Bear is the center of the longest-running public service advertising (PSA) campaign in U.S. history. Since 1944, the Ad Council, ad agency FCB West, and the U.S. Forest Service have been helping Smokey communicate his well-known message, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

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