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For Release: Friday, August 9, 2019

DEC Names Field at Otis Pike Preserve after Smokey Bear to Mark Smokey's 75th Anniversary

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Carrie Meek Gallagher and Forest Ranger Captain Timothy Byrnes announced that a field at DEC's Otis Pike Preserve - West will be named "Smokey Bear Field" in honor of the national fire prevention icon's 75th anniversary today. The approximately 20-acre grassland field lies east of Line Road and just south of Grumman Road in Manorville has long been used by DEC Forest Rangers and volunteers to teach about wildfire control efforts, like prescribed fires.

"This field in the heart of the Pine Barrens, which is both a fire-prone and a fire-dependent ecosystem, reinforces Smokey's iconic 'Only You Can Prevent Wildfires' message," Director Gallagher said. "DEC Forest Rangers and other volunteers frequently conduct prescribed fires on this field in order to restore grassland habitats, become proficient in wildland firefighting techniques, and build a buffer where local volunteer firefighters can potentially deploy resources. This truly is a field where DEC makes concentrated efforts to 'Prevent Wildfires' and their destruction, just as Smokey taught us."

Wildfire Prevention

The best way to reduce wildfires is to prevent fires from starting. In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers statewide made 62 prevention presentations to 23,810 people. Many of these events were large gatherings such as the New York State Fair and county fairs where Smokey Bear appears with a Ranger. Smokey continues to be the most recognized symbol of fire prevention in the world. Of the 55 wildfires extinguished by DEC Forest Rangers in 2017, Rangers attributed only one fire to the actions of children. This statistic stands as a tribute to the effectiveness of the 75-year Smokey Bear campaign to prevent wildfires started by children and adults.

Wildfire Prevention and Reporting

More information on wildfire prevention may be found on DEC's FirewiseNY web pages. Individuals who think they see wildland fires should contact their local fire departments or dial 9-1-1.

About Smokey Bear Field

The approximately 20-acre grassland field lies east of Line Road and just south of Grumman Road in Manorville. It is a popular birdwatching, nature study, and pheasant hunting location.

Anniversary Date

On August 9, 1944, the creation of Smokey Bear was authorized by the U.S. Forest Service, and the first poster was delivered on October 10 by artist Albert Staehle. The poster depicted a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire.

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