Here in Montana, the outdoors is a way of life. People across the state and the rest of the world enjoy Montana's forests, streams, rivers, lakes, and mountains. Of course, we have multiple national and state parks, no matter the season, there is always something to do outside.

One of the big outdoor activities is camping. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks The Treasure State has hundreds of campsites for you and friends and family to enjoy while spending time in the great outdoors.

According to the US Forest Service, Montana has over 25 million acres of forests and it just so happens that 2024 is a big year for Montana and the Forest Service.

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One of Montana's biggest icons is celebrating a significant birthday this year, and he is the spokesperson for the US Forest Service.

Smokey Bear will be celebrating his 80th birthday on August 9th, the party is scheduled to last the entire year. The campaign started back in 1944 and became even more popular when a bear cub was rescued in a New Mexico wildfire that took place back in 1950. The little bear had received burns but was rescued, quickly becoming an American treasure.

Credit: USDA Forest Service
Credit: USDA Forest Service

Smokey would end up at a Zoo in Washington DC where he would pass away in 1976.

Of course, almost all of us are familiar with the Smokey Bear "character". The handsome bear wears hiking boots, pants, and a ranger hat. The character has been one of the most effective marketing tools to educate folks of all ages on the importance of being careful and good stewards of our forests.

Smokey has his line of swag, his own song, and the iconic catchphrase "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires", although it was updated a couple of decades ago to "Only You Can Prevent Wild Fires".

While Smokey might not be native to Montana, the fact is, he has taught tens of thousands of Montanans over the years from school programs, to displays at our National and State Parks and if you ask me, that is certainly something worth celebrating.

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