Smokey Bear updates campaign to help spread word on wildfire prevention

Smokey Bear was founded in 1944

SAN ANTONIOSmokey Bear has a new campaign encouraging people to find their inner Smokey to help prevent unwanted, human-caused wildfires.

“Smokey is Within” focuses on reminding people about wildfire prevention tips and encourages everyone to know their local rules when it comes to prescribed burns.

“It’s important to keep in touch with the local authorities to know what the regulations are or any restrictions on outside fires,” said Maureen Brooks, Branch Chief for Wildfire Prevention and Community Mitigation for the USDA Forest Service.

As of right now, Bexar County is in a burn ban. That means all burning is prohibited until further notice.

When prescribed burns are allowed, they are actually good for our environment. Brooks says prescribed burns help manage vegetation and enhance the growth of forests.

Brooks says about 90% of wildfires in our country are caused by people. In Texas, that number is higher. Brooks says 95% of wildfires in the Lone Star State are caused by humans.

According to Texas A&M Forest Service, there were 12,411 wildfires in Texas last year. That means, 11,790 wildfires in Texas were most likely caused by humans last year.

“Wildfire season is almost everywhere in every part of the country no matter what month we’re in,” Brooks said.

Smokey Bear has been working to prevent wildfires since 1944 when he was created by the Forest Service. Now, his image is protected by U.S. federal law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

The original motto for Smokey Bear was ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” This is the longest-running PSA in American History. The motto always stays the same for Smokey Bear, but the campaigns change in order to keep up with the changing times.

“Bring out your inner Smokey when they are enjoying the outdoors, working outdoors and be responsible and prevent wildfires,” said Brooks.

You can learn more about wildfire prevention and Smokey Bear by clicking here.

About the Author:

Halee Powers is a KSAT producer primarily focused on digital newscasts and events.