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Two symbols of America's forests and parks recently marked anniversaries: Smokey Bear (left) and Woodsy Owl. Photo: USDA Forest Service

Smokey Bear recently marked his 60th year of protecting America's forests, making the furry forest ranger the longest running public-service campaign in history. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service introduced the ursine park ranger in 1944, and the message, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” remained constant until April 2001, when the Ad Council updated the campaign to address the increasing number of wildfires in the nation's wild-lands.

Smokey Bear is joined in his birthday celebration by another symbolic champion of U.S. parks and recreation. Since 1970, Woodsy Owl has been encouraging children across the country to respect America's parks, wildlife, and environment, encouraging them to “Lend a hand, care for the land!”

Both mascots are integral parts of the USDA Forest Service's public education program. For more information or to obtain materials, visit www.symbols.gov.