American Icon

Smokey Bear is America's wildfire prevention icon. He has educated generations of Americans about their role in preventing human-caused wildfires. Created in 1944, the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign is the longest running public service advertising campaign in U.S. History.

As one of the world's most recognizable fictional characters, Smokey's image is protected by U.S. Federal Law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

The campaign's original catch phrase was "Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires." In 1947 it was changed to "Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires." Most recently, in 2001, it was again modified to "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires" in response to a massive outbreak of wildfires in natural areas other than forests. The term "wildfire" applies to any unwanted, unplanned, uncontrolled outdoor fire.

Despite the campaign's success over the years, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country and Smokey's message is as relevant today as it was in 1944.

Explore this section to learn more about the history of the campaign, the "real" Smokey Bear, and Smokey's unique place in American culture.

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A sample of forest fire prevention posters before Smokey
Return to Smokey's Journey
Other Points of interest: The Story Of Smokey