Created on August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has become the United States’ longest-running public service campaign. His mission to teach proper fire safety has spread across the world and resonated with each generation. For a remarkable 80 years, Smokey Bear has been the spokesperson for wildfire prevention, educating and raising awareness from how to properly put out campfires, to simply reminding individuals that they can prevent human-caused wildfires.
Wildfires are a destructive force that can affect more than just those near to the flames. In the summer of 2023, Canadian wildfire smoke affected Pennsylvania’s air quality so significantly that it posed a serious risk to members of sensitive groups and forced the Department of Environmental Protection to declare a Code Red. Further, in 2023, a congressional report found that wildfires cost the United States economy $384 billion to $893 billion annually including property damage, insurance costs, and diminished real estate values.
We must preserve our forests, as our forests preserve us. Forests filter and protect thousands of streams and drinking water. They provide critical habitats for plants and animals. Additionally, trees and plants within our forests actively remove carbon and replace it with oxygen, thereby purifying Pennsylvania’s air. Forests even provide many recreational activities such as hiking, camping, and fall foliage viewing.
To celebrate 80 years of wildfire safety, my resolution will recognize August 9, 2024, as Smokey Bear’s 80th Birthday in Pennsylvania. This resolution serves to remind us that wildfire prevention is as relevant to us today as it was in 1944.
Please join me in cosponsoring this resolution to celebrate Smokey Bear’s birthday and his achievements, and to further spread his message that “only YOU can prevent wildfires!”