U.S. Forest Service wildfire prevention specialists receive prestigious national award

Release Date: May 1, 2014  

The California pair developed the “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire” campaign to raise awareness about preventing human-caused wildfires

VALLEJO, Calif. – Smokey Bear knows a good thing when he sees it. In the “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire” campaign, the wildfire icon sees an effective way to get an important message delivered to the public. Human-caused wildfires, particularly those related to vehicles, are a leading cause of wildfires in California.

The program was designed by Mark Thibideau, a fire prevention patrolman on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and developed into a statewide fire prevention campaign by then Forest Service fire prevention manager for California, Ronald W. Hodgson. For their efforts, Wednesday the two each took home a coveted Bronze Smokey, the highest national award for innovative fire prevention programs in place a minimum of two years.

Bronze Smokey Award 2

Photo above: Trudie Mahoney, Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation Management, Pacific Southwest Region is joined by Smokey Award recipient Mark Thibideau and Ron Hodgson. Joe Aragon (black shirt) served as the Incident Commander on the California Wildfire Coordinating Group Prevention Team that helped implement the program statewide.

The “One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire” campaign used a variety of traditional fire prevention and multi-media communication tools to deliver messages specific to preventing human-caused fires. After debuting during the 2012 fire season, the wildfire prevention campaign has been widely adopted by departments throughout California and is now spreading to other states.

“The ‘One Less Spark’ campaign is now a vital program for the prevention and education of human ignitions on both public and private lands,” said Shawna Legarza, U.S. Forest Service Fire Director for the Pacific Southwest Region. “It helps prevent devastation from wildfires, both economically and socially.”

Hodgson, who was part of a Forest Service Enterprise Team during his employment, is a social scientist with a background in wildfire prevention. Thibideau is also instrumental in Camp Smokey, an annual multi-agency educational exhibit at the California State Fair (“Cal Expo”).

Sample campaign materials:
“One Less Spark” home page www.preventwildfireca.org/OneLessSpark/
California Wildfire Prevention www.preventwildfireca.org/
Betty White “One Less Spark” PSA www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeFBTg7UPfs
“One Less Spark” Spark Arresters PSA www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWpyHqr3Sl8

One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire PosterOne Less Spark, One Less Wildfire Banner

The Smokey Bear Award is designed for people or organizations who provide sustained, outstanding service-with significant program impact- in the wildfire prevention arena. Honorees demonstrate innovation, creativity, commitment, and passion for fire prevention. In the world of wildfire prevention, there is no greater honor than to receive the national Smokey Bear Award. For more information and a list of past winners visit: www.smokeybear.com/awards.asp.


The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to State and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.


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