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WHEREAS, the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2019, providing a fitting occasion to pay tribute to its success in educating generations of Virginians in the prevention of wildfires; and
WHEREAS, during World War II, while many firefighters were away at war, the prevention of forest fires and wildfires became a matter of urgent importance across the nation; the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service organized the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention program in 1944, with the help of the War Advertising Council and the National Association of State Foresters; and
WHEREAS, in 1950, artist Albert Staehle created a poster featuring a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire, and Smokey Bear was born; and
WHEREAS, an orphaned bear cub survived a forest fire in New Mexico and was placed in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where, until his death in 1976, he served as a living symbol of Smokey Bear; and
WHEREAS, over the years, the program’s slogan evolved from, “Smokey Says - Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires,” to the more memorable, “Remember Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires,” and in 2001, it was updated again to, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires,” to emphasize that not all natural fires occur in forests; and
WHEREAS, many Virginians of a certain age remember the popular tune “Smokey the Bear," in which the songwriters inserted "the" into Smokey’s official name to maintain the rhythm of the song; and
WHEREAS, as the longest-running public service campaign in the nation’s history, the Smokey Bear program has been credited with reducing the number of fires and acres lost across the Commonwealth each year; and
WHEREAS, the campaign remains vital through the ongoing partnership of the USDA Forest Service, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council; and
WHEREAS, now three-quarters of a century old, Smokey Bear is one of the world’s most recognized characters and continues to instruct new generations of Virginians on the prevention of human-caused wildfires and the preservation of the scenic beauty of the Commonwealth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize August 2019 as SMOKEY BEAR AWARENESS MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.