WISCONSIN – In the Eastern Region, Smokey Bear had the opportunity to celebrate his 75th birthday with two Major League Baseball teams – the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox.
First up was Comerica Park with the Detroit Tigers on August 9. Employees of the Huron-Manistee National Forests helped Smokey Bear share his message of wildfire prevention with fans at a Forest Service booth set up outside of the stadium. Before the game, fans had an opportunity to take selfies with Smokey in the stands. After the game, Forest Service employees handed out 1,000 Smokey Bear baseballs to a new generation of wildfire prevention enthusiasts. This messaging is especially important in this area, where more than 98 percent of wildfires in Michigan are caused by humans.
On August 18, Smokey Bear had an amazing day celebrating his 75th at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Employees of the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests were joined by representatives from Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission. Forest Service wildfire prevention messages were read over the loud speaker as part of the official pre-game ceremony.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for Smokey to connect with the public and for us to help to educate folks about wildfire prevention, safety and our overall conservation efforts. We are very proud of the work that Smokey has done over the past 75 years – the best news is that he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down,” stated Acting Forest Supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests Brian Austin.
Since his birthday on August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of conservation and protection of America’s forests. His message about wildfire prevention has helped reduce the number of acres lost annually to wildfires, from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.7 million annually today. However, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country. Many Americans believe that lightning starts most wildfires. In fact, nine out of 10 wildfires nationwide are started by humans. In recent years, 98 percent of the wildfires in Massachusetts were most commonly caused by unattended campfires, debris burning, children and careless disposal of smoking materials.
Thanks to the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers for presenting wonderful opportunities for Smokey to connect with the public and help educate folks about wildfire prevention, safety and our overall conservation efforts.