May 18, 2011
- Smokey Bear
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
When we think of Smokey Bear, most of us envision the illustrated bear and his famous slogan, "Only YOU Can Prevent Wild Fires" (changed from "Forest Fires" in 2001). But there was a real live Smokey Bear that spurred the idea for the advertising campaign.
In 1948, a forest fire in the Lincoln National Forest in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico was spreading fast. Twenty-four firefighters were trapped in the fire's path and lay down on a rock slide for more than an hour to escape the heat and flames. They were not hurt but noticed a small bear cub that had climbed a tree right in the fire's path. His back legs were badly burned, and his mother was nowhere to be found. The firefighters named him "Hotfoot Teddy" and brought him to a veterinarian. People around the country fell in love with the bear, and it wasn't long before he was renamed Smokey Bear and sent to live at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Even though he died in 1974 at the age of 26, his image is still used to spread the message of fire prevention.
More than 100,000 wildfires start each year in the U.S. because of careless human behavior. Smokey Bear knows that many of these wildfires can be prevented and asks each of us to stop and think about our behavior. Wildfires are usually caused by burning trash, leaving a campfire unattended, throwing out barbecue or woodstove coals and ashes, carelessly tossing cigarettes and children playing with matches.
The Smokey Bear campaign is now 67 years old, and his simple message is as clear as ever, "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires." Read more about Smokey Bear, wildfires and DEC's forest rangers in the October 2009 issue of Conservationist magazine.
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Climb a Fire Tower
Fire observers used to keep watch over New York State forests from fire towers located throughout the Catskills and Adirondacks. There were once 69 fire towers in use, but the last of them was closed in 1990. Today, rangers and firefighters use helicopters and lookout stations to watch for signs of fire. Twelve towers in the Adirondacks and five in the Catskills (pdf - 738Kb) have been restored and are open to the public to climb. You can take a step back in time and pretend that you are protecting the state's forests. Once you get to the top of a tower, you will have a great view and a good workout. Have an adult search the Internet for directions to and tips about trails and hikes to the towers listed below.
-Balsam Lake Mountain - Town of Hardenburgh
-Red Hill - Town of Denning
-Tremper Mountain - Town of Shandaken
-Hunter Mountain - Town of Hunter
-Overlook Mountain - Town of Woodstock
-Azure Mountain - Town of Waverly
-Blue Mountain - Town of Blue Mountain Lake
-Goodnow Mountain - Town of Newcomb
-Hadley Mountain - Town of Lake Luzerne
-Kane Mountain - Town of Caroga Lake
-Mount Adams - Town of North Hudson
-Mount Arab - Town of Tupper Lake
-Owl's Head Mountain - Town of Long Lake
-Poke-O-Moonshine - Town of Keeseville
-Rondaxe Mountain -Town of Old Forge
-Snowy Mountain - Town of Indian Lake
-Vanderwhacker Mountain - Town of North Creek
Help Smokey Spread the Word
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Can You ID a Tree for Kids?
Sunday, May 22 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
For children in grades 2 to 5
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Fishing at Norrie
Saturday, May 21 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Citizen Science: The Early Birder
Thursdays, May 19 and 26 at 7:00 AM
Citizen Science: Moth Census
Friday, May 20 at 8:00 PM
Flashlights are helpful but not necessary.
Family Fun: World Turtle Day
Saturday, May 21 at 10:00 AM
Girl Scout Program: Exploring Nature
Saturday, May 21 at 2:00 PM
For Daisy Girl Scouts and their parents/troop leaders. Registration for this program is through the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York at www.gsneny.org. Call 518-489-8110 for more information. A materials fee applies.
Family Fun: What's the Buzz?
Saturday, May 28 at 10:00 AM
Space is limited. Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, May 25. Materials fee: FFR members $1.00, non-members $3.00
How to Do It: Composting with Worms
Saturday, May 28 at 2:00 PM
Build a Bird Nest
Monday, May 30 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursdays, May 19 and 26 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Bugs, Beetles and Butterflies
Saturday, May 21 at 10:30 AM
For children 8 years and older.
Evening Bird Walk
Sunday, May 22 at 6:00 PM
For adults and children 8 years and older.
Saturday, May 28 at 10:30 AM
For children age 3 years and under.