Forestry News electronic newsletter masthead

August, 2009

Smokey Bear Turns 65

Smokey Bear turns 65 August 9. The most widely recognized symbol for fire safety, Smokey Bear will celebrate his 65th birthday August 9. The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) will host the only national appearance by Smokey on his actual birthday at the Carytown Watermelon Festival on Sunday in Richmond.

Smokey was first used as a poster character Aug. 9, 1944, and is one of the most widely recognized characters in the world. An animal artist specializing in drawing dogs, Albert Staehle was the first artist to render Smokey, and his Smokey had long, silky hair. Rudy Wendelin, who created art for the U.S. Forest Service from 1946 through 1973, refined the character into what we know today.

The black bear cub who became the living Smokey symbol was discovered May 9, 195O. A survivor of the 17,000-acre Capitan Fire on Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, the bear spent two months recovering from injuries before being flown to Washington, DC, and put in the National Zoo. The living Smokey officially retired May 2, 1975, and died Nov. 10, 1976. Smokey is buried in Capitan, New Mexico.

Smokey's original slogan was “Only you can prevent forest fires.” In April 2001, the Ad Council updated his message to “Only you can prevent wildfires.” The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest running public service campaign in history.

Other Smokey Bear “fun” facts: His image is protected by Federal law (Public Law 93-318), and he has his own Zip Code (20252).

VDOF Awaits Final Budget

The gloomy fiscal forecast for Virginia continues to take a toll on state agencies. In response to a request from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, executive branch agencies, including VDOF, have prepared and submitted budgets reduction proposals of five, 10 and 15 percent. For VDOF, these proposed cuts would be in addition to the 15.3 percent budget reduction the agency implemented last December for this fiscal year (FY2010).

In an email to all VDOF employees, State Forester Carl Garrison encouraged everyone to continue to look for ways to trim operating expenses. He expressed appreciation for the efforts of employees.

Agencies will learn which version of their budgets will be accepted when Governor Kaine speaks to members of the General Assembly on August 19, however it could be Labor Day before we know.

Fall Fire Academy to be held in Bedford

The annual Bedford County Interagency Wildland Fire Academy will be held Sept. 24-27. The Academy features both hands-on and classroom instruction on a variety of skills used in suppressing fires in forests and fields.  The VDOF partners with Bedford County, the National Park Service, and the U. S. Forest Service to host this annual event.

Courses such as Basic Wildland Firefighter and Introduction to Fire Behavior are designed to train new firefighters in basic wildland firefighting skills. Classroom and field exercises are included in this course.  Experienced firefights may sign up for other offerings, such as Advanced Firefight/Squad Boss. Courses in Portable Pumps and Power Saws will also be offered.

Interested students can register at Registration closes on September 1, 2009.

Waynesboro Urban Tree Health Care Workshop

The 14th annual Waynesboro Plant Health Care for Urban Trees workshop will be held Sept. 10. The program offers two tracks: one for arborists and the other for everyone else. Those in the arborist track will spend the day at Ridgeview Park learning various techniques to improve workplace safety and dangerous tree removal.

In the general track, sessions include: urban soil rehabilitation; landscaping in limited space; identifying and evaluating defects that lead to tree failure; urban tree space design (with new concepts being employed in Washington, D.C.); assessing soils in the built environment, and tree risk management in the field. This session will begin at the Best Western Conference Center in Waynesboro and move to Ridgeview Park for lunch and the afternoon sessions.

Early bird registration (before Aug. 31st) prices range from $40 per person for students, tree stewards, master gardeners and master naturalists to $85 for the general public. Municipal employees and non-profit organizations pay $75 per person. Discounts are available for organizations with multiple registrations. After August 31st, all registrations are $95 per person. For more information, call Dwayne Jones at 540.942.6735.