Smokey Bear


[Photo] Smokey Bear as a cub, sleeping under a sign that says 'Remember-Only you can prevent forest fires!'The Southwest made a memorable contribution to the public’s national image of the Forest Service.  The National Advertising Council, an outgrowth of the War Advertising Council, developed and supported “Smokey Bear” as a symbol for forest fire protection, beginning in 1945. In 1950, the Ad Council suggested that a real bear would be an asset to the program.

“That summer, following a large fire on the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, an orphaned bear cub was discovered on the burn.” Fred H. Miller, who received his first Forest Service appointment on the Santa Fe National Forest in 1916, and who had spent many years in the Southwestern Region, remembers Smokey’s reception in Washington, D.C. He was in Washington when Smokey Bear was brought by air from Santa Fe. He remembered that “a group of us from the Chief’s office went out to the Zoo in Rock Creek Park to welcome the little cub. (Chief) Lyle Watts was there, and Senator Chavez was also there, so that bear was quite a sight, and one of the attractions at the Zoo.”

Miller credited Kay Flock, Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest, with the idea of sending the cub to Washington, D.C. William D. Hurst (former Regional Forester in the Southwestern region) mentioned that Elliott Barker and Ray Bell of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department should be given credit for initiating pushing the program to completion. In time, Smokey Bear became synonymous with forest fire protection.

From Timeless Heritage: A History of the Forest Service in the Southwest, 1998. pg. 112.