The Need for “Smokey” is on HIGH


The Need for “Smokey” is on HIGH

by Amy Lignor


It was an American black bear cub that became the beloved and well-known icon, Smokey the Bear. Caught in what became the horrific Capitan Gap fire of 1950, the cub was in line to lose his life at the hands of a wildfire Smokey the Bear, Capitan Gap fire of 1950, New Mexico, wildfires, United States Forest Servicethat burned 17,000 acres in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. Smokey not only became an adorable icon, but he also spoke the necessary words that it seems some people have forgotten.


Yes, it is quite true that there are controlled burns put on by state governments. These controlled burns are categorized as “good” fire ecology that actually help nurture the land and regrow crops and forestry. Another category is “natural” wildfires set by fierce storms and lightning bolts. But when it comes to the care human beings take to prevent wildfires, knowledge of the rules has become lax.


Less than one year ago, a recorded $243 million dollars was spent in only one state (Washington), in only one week, to battle two massive wildfire that had gone astray. In just the beginning of this month, New Mexico has seen two extremely large fires that took days to stop. With the dangerous recipe of low moisture, persistent drought, high winds and warm weather, fire officials have elevated the fire danger. Even Smokey Bear’s district is experiencing constant conditions that warrant the “HIGH” rating.


When it comes to the future outlook for 2016 (April-July), significant wildland fires are forecasted everywhere from the southern Plains to the Upper Midwest; the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina; and even going so far as the Hawaiian Islands and south central Alaska, which are now both rated in the “HIGH” danger forecast.


The United States Forest Service’s most recent study of fires shows how frequent and absolutely avoidable fires can be. More than 75,000 wildfires are reported in the United States on an annual basis, burning an average of over seven million acres a year. Every state has its own risk and yet still, after all this time, 9 out of 10 wildfires are still being caused by humans.


Improperly doused or misplaced fires are one of the leading causes, but the ways to stop them from ever occurring are quite easy. Before starting a fire, make sure you check your area’s surroundings so that conditions are secure for an open flame. Campfires should be surrounded by rocks or stones and be located a minimum of 10 feet away from any combustible materials while burning firewood and no other substances. It is also an absolute must to keep a shovel and supply of water nearby to completely extinguish the flame with sufficient water and then cover it with dirt before walking away.


Fireworks are also a big cause of a wildfire beginning and racing out of control. Before using any type of firework, and laws are different in every state and county on what you are legally allowed to use, always remember that fireworks in any forested area is unlawful. Celebrating the 4th can only be done on flat surfaces that are absent of any and all grasses or trees.


Every homeowner wishes to keep their homes neat and clean. Yet, by not following the facts Smokey gave, the danger of yard waste burning has grown higher with each year. An easier solution would be to bag and haul waste to the landfill. Winds can quite easily turn a yard waste burning into a day where you and perhaps your neighbors lose their entire homes.


And when it comes to the smokers out there, always remember to dispose of the still-flaming cigarettes into a non-dangerous spot where fires cannot be started. Make sure to look down; throwing cigarettes into a pile of dry leaves is a huge no. Ashtrays were made for a reason; throwing a cigarette out of a car window should never be done.


In other words, keeping the planet clean and safe is all about the people making wiser choices. Since the world seems to be forgetting that lovable black bear, it is time to re-educate ourselves on exactly what Smokey has to say.

Source:  Baret News

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