News Release

Forest Service Celebrates Smokey Bear’s 65th Birthday

New Bilingual Smokey Bear Story Mentors a New Generation

Washington
August 10, 2009 -

The USDA Forest Service today celebrated the 65th birthday of an American icon – Smokey Bear –and released the new Smokey Bear Story "big book." This bilingual (English and Spanish) illustrated educational book introduces Smokey Bear and fire prevention messages to a new generation of American children. Smokey Bear's trademark message, "only you can prevent wildfires," is one of the longest running PSA campaigns in U.S. history.

"Smokey Bear is one of the most beloved symbols in American history and his important message has been communicated to generations of Americans during the past sixty five years," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "This new book will help mentor a new generation in carrying on Smokey's message."

The celebration featured a bilingual reading of the Smokey Bear Story to local pre-school children. The Alexandria Children's Chorus performed in honor of the celebration and Smokey Bear cut his birthday cake. Additionally, the illustrator for the book was on hand to sign complimentary copies of the Smokey Bear Story "big book". This beautifully illustrated children's book is tied to national education standards of learning and suggests activities and programs that can be conducted with children while learning five rules to prevent wildfires.

Since his birthday on August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of conservation and protection of America's forests. His message about forest fire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres lost annually to forest fires, or wildfires, from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.5 million annually today. However, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country. Many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are started by humans. The principle causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials and BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.

To learn more about Smokey Bear and wildfire prevention visit www.smokeybear.com. Smokey's "big book" is available for purchase (free to teachers) at www.symbols.gov .