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Maryland Celebrates Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday

Fire Prevention Message Spreads Through Public Lands

Photo of Smokey Bear and a friend with Maryland Forest Service fire truckThe public is invited to join the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Aug. 9 in honoring one of the country’s iconic conservation heroes on his birthday. For 75 years, Smokey Bear has served as a national symbol for wildfire prevention — the longest running and most recognizable public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.

“The importance of Smokey’s message is as relevant today as it was 75 years ago,” Maryland State Forester Donald VanHassent said. “The best birthday present anyone can give Smokey Bear is learning how to prevent forest and wildland fires — as Smokey says, only you can prevent forest fires.”

On average the Maryland Forest Service responds to 325 wildfires that burn 3,200 aces within the state each year — and 97% of those fires are human-caused.  Most wildfires in Maryland are caused by improper debris burning, arson, children playing with fire, smoking, and camp fires. Wildfires have the potential to kill trees, destroy wildlife habitat, and endanger homes.

In honor of Smokey’s birthday, several Maryland state parks along with the Maryland Forest Service wildland firefighters will hold public events honoring the occasion and helping spread Smokey’s message.

At Cunningham Falls State Park, visitors will learn about making the perfect campfire, wildland firefighting, and wildfire prevention. Celebrate the occasion of Smokey’s 75th Birthday with s’mores and selfies. Event is at 8 p.m. in the park’s Houck Amphitheater (shine only).

At New Germany State Park, wildland firefighters will present the true story of Smokey Bear and his role in fire prevention and retired forester Champ Zumbrun will be performing the “Smokey the Bear” song. A wildland fire truck will be on display, and kids will have a chance to put their Smokey skills to the test. Smokey will share his birthday cake too! The event takes place August 9, 5-7 p.m. outside the Lake House, and inside if it rains.

At Rocky Gap State Park, Smokey will make his rounds with Forest Ranger Julie to visit campers throughout the campground, providing lots of fun Smokey giveaways and picture opportunities with America’s favorite conservation bear. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center.

Maryland residents and visitors should check the department’s online calendar for these and other great outdoor programs.