BLM’s Smokey Bear in Craig is getting a facelift thanks to area Boy Scouts | CraigDailyPress.com

BLM’s Smokey Bear in Craig is getting a facelift thanks to area Boy Scouts

Wyatt Mortenson, left, and Nick Crookston give Craig's Smokey the Bear in front of BLM's Little Snake River office a new look.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Two area Boy Scouts are making Craig’s Smokey Bear in front of the Bureau of Land Management Little Snake River field office better prepared to weather the elements.

Life Scout Nick Crookston, 15, is working on his Eagle Scout project and chose to revamp Craig’s Smokey Bear with a general cleaning to include a bright new decal and a plastic cover to protect against Craig’s summer sun and snowy winters.

Smokey Bear

Created in 1944, the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign is the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history, educating generations of Americans about their role in preventing wildfires. As one of the world’s most recognizable 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. Despite the campaign’s success over the years, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country. Smokey’s message is as relevant and urgent today as it was in 1944.

Smokey’s original catchphrase was “Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires.” In 1947, it became “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires.” In 2001, it was again updated to its current version of “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” in response to a massive outbreak of wildfires in natural areas other than forests and to clarify that Smokey is promoting the prevention of unwanted and unplanned outdoor fires versus prescribed fires.

To learn more about Smokey, visit smokeybear.com.

Reaching the rank of Eagle Scout isn’t easy. Scouts must log a minimum of 18 hours of community service and 21 merit badges over several years as they make their way through each of the six ranks of the Boy Scouts of America. The last rank — Eagle Scout — can only be achieved with a community service project for any religious institution, school, or community non-profit other than the BSA.

With the help of volunteers and donated material from BLM, Crookston said he’s at least 30 total service hours in to his Eagle Scout project.

“We are redoing the Smokey Bear sign,” Crookston said Friday as he helped sand down the edges of Smokey’s new protective plastic barrier to the perfect silhouetted fit. “It was peeling, the sticker was peeling. The paint was fading. It was in dire need of a little upgrading.”

Nick Crookston, 15, left, works with Wyatt Mortenson on his Eagle Scout project Friday, July 19.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Fellow Star Scout Wyatt Mortenson, 16, was helping sand Smokey’s new plastic protective barrier Friday and said he hopes it lasts in the Northwest Colorado elements.

“I hope to see it in five years later looking exactly like it does now instead of looking all torn up and sun-faded,” Mortenson said.

Mortenson sees Smokey Bear as an iconic part of Craig’s firefighting family.

“He’s kind of the mascot of wildland fires, so he’s a big part of the fire community and firefighting,” Mortenson said.

Crookston, who said he started as a Cub Scout Bobcat at 8 years old, said Boy Scout camps have given him a true appreciation for the outdoors.

“You’re cut off from the world,” Crookston said. “They don’t allow electronics. It’s really not touched by any human at all up there. You don’t get to see that very often.”