While forest fires are not our number one problem within urban forestry, we’re all still familiar with one famous bear. Who doesn’t know his tagline, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”? What you may not know is that the o.g. Smokey Bear has a D.C. connection.
Sixty-four years ago, in June of 1950, a tiny singed bear cub arrived at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., having lost its mother and survived a forest fire in the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico. Named Smokey Bear, he had been rescued and nursed back to health by Forest Service staff to become the living symbol of fire prevention. Although most people believe Smokey Bear came into existence with the cub, he had actually been a fire prevention ad campaign for the Forest Service for six years prior to that. However it was the tiny cub, found clinging to a tree, who breathed life into the forest fire campaign and grew to be a nationally known symbol who taught generations of children to be careful while enjoying the national forests.
Make Smokey proud by planting a tree in your yard with one of our residential planting programs or volunteering at one of our many events. #OnlyYou can prevent wildfires and help us grow our urban canopy.