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Wildland fires can be catastrophic for forests but also for homeowners and their property.  Fires are often caused by natural factors, but by far, the largest cause of wildfires is man-related.  Learning about wildfire prevention and what you can do to help will reduce the number of fires.  Preventing forest fires is everyone’s responsibility!  The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission's Prevention and Education Working Team (PEWT) offers several ways to take part.  See the Prevention section for more information.



In October 2019, the Prevention Education Working Team (PEWT) helped support the 3rd annual Cohesive Strategy Workshop in Plymouth Massachusetts. Three PEWT members were part of the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission's (NFFPC) Incident Management Team, led by Incident Commander Rich Schenk, that organized and ran the three day event.

A key part of the NFFPC Incident Management Team's work involved the four hour field tour at the nearby Miles Standish State Forest. This part of the tour talked about local, state and federal partners working together to restore pitch pine habitat.

A Smokey Bear 75th birthday display was also set up at the event. It consisted of official posters from Smokey’s 40th, 50th and 75th birthdays and a newly created poster entitled “The History of Smokey Bear in Maine.”


With a very special 75th birthday celebration being planned for 2019 we thought that we would provide you with a little history refresher and some trivia regarding the longest running public service campaign in Ad Council history.

The cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program was established in 1942. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service, The National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

In 1944 the Wartime Advertising Council teamed up with Walt Disney who permitted Bambi to be used for one year as the first cartoon animal to disseminate a national fire prevention message.

On August 9, 1944 a bear was selected to become the national symbol of forest fire prevention.

Artist Albert Staehle created the first images of the bear which would eventually be named “Smokey” Bear.

Rudy Wendelin took over the reigns as Smokey’s Bear’s official artist in 1946 and continued until his retirement in 1973.

In 1947 the well know slogan “Remember only you can prevent forest fires” became Smokey’s official message. This was used for 54 years until it was revised to “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” in 2001.

On May 9, 1950 a 5 pound Black Bear cub rescued from a forest fire in Capitan New Mexico would become the first living symbol of forest fire prevention. The live bear would remain in residence at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. until his passing on November 9, 1976.

In 1952 the Smokey Bear Act, public law 359 was signed into law by President Eisenhower assigning protection of Smokey’s image under the management of the USDA Forest Service. Licensing agreements have provided millions of dollars in revenue dedicated for use in fire safety education and prevention.

A Junior Ranger program was established in 1953 and millions of children have participated learning how to prevent forest fires as Smokey’s Junior Ranger team.

Smokey Bear received so much fan mail at the Washington Zoo that he was assigned his own zip code, 20252. Now Smokey has his own website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram site as well as a YouTube channel.

This is just a brief offering of Smokey Bear trivia and history. For more information, wildfire prevention education materials and interactive programs please visit Smokey’s website at


Another great 75th birthday item was initiated by our friends at the Mid-Atlantic Compact. It’s a special edition insert for Highlights magazine about Smokey Bear and wildfire prevention.