That venerable protector of forests Smokey Bear will make two appearances on Long Island this month as part of the character’s 75th anniversary celebration.
Smokey will be visiting the Otis Pike Preserve in Calverton on August 9 and the Hagerman Fire Department in East Patchogue during the New York State Championship Parade on August 18, according to a release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Smokey Bear’s Long Island appearances are part of a nine-stop statewide tour that the state DEC has organized in conjunction with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council to celebrate 75 years since the 1944 launch of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign, the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.
Roughly nine out of 10 forest fires are caused by humans. Wildfires can be deadly and destructive, and the national annual cost of their consequences can range anywhere from $71.1 to $347.8 billion, according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Last year’s Camp Fire in northern California destroyed the city of Paradise and killed more than 80 people, making it the nation’s deadliest wildfire in more than a century.
New York State has 18.5 million acres of public and private forest lands susceptible to seasonal wildfires, and DEC’s Forest Rangers are the state’s lead division tasked with forest fire mitigation and the control and prevention of wildfires. In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres.