RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Northam issued a proclamation designating August 2019 as Smokey Bear Awareness Month, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign.
The proclamation is also reminding Virginians of their role in protecting the Commonwealth’s forestland. In Virginia, 95 percent of wildfires are started from human activity, and more than half are caused by people burning trash and yard debris.
“Smokey Bear has educated generations of Virginians about the importance of preventing wildfires and preserving the Commonwealth’s natural beauty,” said Northam. “With its iconic figure and memorable message, the campaign continues to remind Virginians that simple actions can make a big difference in protecting our forests and reducing the number of fires and acres lost across the Commonwealth each year.”
Northam visited the James Garner Building at the Virginia Department of Forestry headquarters in Charlottesville where he presented Smokey with an official proclamation and wished him a happy 75th birthday. He was joined by Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, employees working at the Department’s headquarters, and children from the Triple C camp.
“Trees and healthy forest management, not only provide wildlife habitat and scenic beauty, they also play a critical role in Virginia’s air and water quality and are the basis of the Commonwealth’s third largest industry, “ said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “The Smokey Bear campaign remains a vital component of our ongoing efforts to prevent wildfires and protect Virginia‘s forests and forest industry.”
Smokey Bear is the longest-running public information campaign in America. Over the years, the program’s slogan evolved from, “Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires,” to the more memorable, “Remember Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.” In 2001, it was updated to, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires,” to emphasize that not all natural fires occur in forests.
“Smokey’s message is as relevant today as it was when he made his first appearance,” said State Forester Rob Farrell. “We are not only celebrating the birthday of an icon, we are also renewing our commitment to protecting lives and property by preventing wildfires.”
For more information on Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday and to find local events, click here.