9:55 AM EDT, August 4, 2012
Smokey was first used as a poster character Aug. 9, 1944, and is one of the most widely recognized characters in the world. An animal artist specializing in drawing dogs, Albert Staehle was the first artist to render Smokey, and his Smokey had long, silky hair. Rudy Wendelin, who created art for the U.S. Forest Service from 1946 through 1973, refined the character into what we know today.
The black bear cub who became the living Smokey symbol was discovered May 9, 195O. A survivor of the 17,000-acre Capitan Fire on Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, the bear spent two months recovering from injuries before being flown toWashington, DC, and put in the National Zoo. The living Smokey officially retired May 2, 1975, and died Nov. 10, 1976. Smokey is buried in Capitan, New Mexico.
Smokey's slogan was “Only you can prevent forest fires.” In April 2001, the Ad Council updated his message to “Only you can prevent wildfires.” The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest running public service campaign in history.
His image is protected by Federal law (Public Law 93-318), is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council, and he has his own Zip Code (20252).
The Virginia Department of Forestry -- http://www.dof.virginia.gov/-- has shifted from a county-based to a multi-county, area-based life safety and public service agency under an agency reorganization plan that went into effect recently, according to a press release.
In addition, under the “Going Mobile” concept, the state agency will further embrace new and emerging technology to enable employees to work in a mobile environment instead of a physical office.
VDOF devised this reorganization plan to capitalize on efficiencies found in mobile technologies while at the same time reducing the need for general fund expenditures in support of agency operations during a time of decreasing state spending. VDOF’s reorganization will allow it to fulfill its mission as a first response and public service agency while requiring less in appropriations and utilizing fewer full-time employees compared to the traditional model.
“The county-based protection and service model served us fairly well for most of our 98-year history,” said State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison. “But with worldwide economic conditions being what they are for the past four years, this model was simply unsustainable. The citizens of Virginia need to know that we are here to protect them from the ravages of wildfire; ensure the quality of the state’s rivers and streams through proper forestry practices, and to meet their needs with regards to landowner services.”
Newly appointed Deputy State Forester Rob Farrell, who will oversee the implementation of the reorganization, said, “By assigning a team of five to eight full-time VDOF employees to service areas comprised of three to seven counties, each jurisdiction will have better coverage and enhanced service. And, with the addition of the mobile technology, VDOF employees will be able to ‘take the office’ directly to the landowners who need assistance.”
The teams will each be led by one of 23 senior area foresters. These managers will be in the field working side by side with their team members to provide all-hazard response capabilities, fight wildfires, provide forest management assistance and ensure timber harvests do not pollute our waterways.
Full implementation of the Going Mobile plan will take several years. In the interim, citizens will experience a “hybrid” system as several county offices are consolidated into one office per service area and the smart-phone and laptop computer technology is launched.
“The complexity of these changes will likely mean that we will encounter some unanticipated issues along the way,” said Farrell. “We will do our best to minimize these issues, and we very much appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
About VDOFThe Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.
With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 144,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide more than $27.5 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth.
Eastern Region senior area foresters and their areas of responsibility:
Western Region senior area foresters and their areas of responsibility:
Central Region senior area foresters and their areas of responsibility: