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Think Smokey Bear This Labor Day

Planning your Labor Day getaway? Don't forget to take Smokey Bear and his advice along with you to help prevent wildfires over the upcoming holiday, says the Michigan DNR.

It’s been a busy month for Smokey Bear. In addition to turning 70 Aug. 9, the fire prevention icon joined Department of Natural Resources’ staff to continue his birthday celebration and spread important fire prevention messages across the Upper Peninsula.

“Smokey has been a spokesman for the DNR’s fire program for decades,” said Paul Kollmeyer, manager of the DNR Forest Resources Division’s Resource Protection section. “Because he’s so recognizable, we’ve relied on Smokey to help fire program staff bring fire prevention messaging to the forefront at schools, fairs, parades and other events.”

Smokey Bear at the U.P. State Fair One of the most popular events that Smokey attends each year is the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba. With thousands of people stopping by to take part in DNR activities, Smokey joined the fair fun this week by greeting hundreds of children and adults. While he was busy shaking hands and giving high-fives, fire program staff reminded folks to practice fire safety by sharing Smokey’s famous message: “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

After leaving Escanaba, Smokey swung over to Munising where the Michigan Natural Resources Commission honored his milestone birthday. The DNR along with cooperators from local fire departments, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service joined the commissioners to thank Smokey for his service and have cake in his honor.

“Smokey’s likeness and messages resonate with people of all ages,” said J.R. Richardson, NRC chair. “Folks grew up with Smokey and his ever-popular fire safety messages. From the time you were a kid sitting by the campfire with your family to adulthood when you’re the one responsible for making sure the campfire is out cold, Smokey’s words leave a lasting impression.

“On behalf of the NRC, I’d like to thank Smokey for 70 years of fire prevention in Michigan.”

In addition to these recent events, celebrations in Smokey’s honor were held at Orchard Beach and Van Riper state parks.

To learn more about the DNR’s fire program and fire prevention in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/preventwildfires; to request Smokey’s presence at a community or school event, contact the DNR fire officer in your area.