Growing up as a child, “Smokey the Bear” was a very popular icon in educating the public about forest fire prevention. It was a program started by the US Forest Service during WWII as many of the experiences fire fighters were serving in the armed forces. Their goal was to educate people that 9 out of 10 forest fires could be prevented and we could all do our part to prevent them. The campaign was very successful and soon Smokey the Bear became an iconic figure. Even today when I see a large black bear, it reminds me of this infamous black bear who raised awareness on the dangers of forest fires. Today, through research, we’ve come to learn that not all forest fires are bad and that some forests do better through a controlled burn, so as to help clear the forest floor recycle nutrients back into the soil, open up gaps in trees to promote new growth and to kill invasive species. While some trees, like the Jack Pine, need the heat from forest fires to burst their cones open to disperse their seeds for reproduction.
- Stan Masters
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