20¢ Fire Prevention
Issue Date: August 13, 1984
City: Capitan, NM
Printed By: American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
This stamp honors the 40th anniversary of the mascot and familiar symbol of the U.S. Forest Service. Smokey Bear's face was widely used in the Forest Service's efforts to prevent forest fires.
Smokey Bear –
Symbol of the U.S. Forest Service
The Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1944, the Forest Service and Advertising Council began using a poster created by Albert Staehle, featuring “Smokey Bear” as the symbol for fire prevention.
In May 1950, a man-made fire ravaged 17,000 acres of forest in the Capitan Mountains of south-central New Mexico. A small bear club managed to survive the blaze by climbing a tree. Firefighters rescued the cub from the tree and tended to his badly burned feet. Soon after, they nicknamed him Smokey Bear, in reference to the symbol for fire prevention.
Sent to live in the National Zoo, the little bear cub became a living symbol for forest fire prevention, and quickly became a national and worldwide celebrity. Smokey Bear died in 1976, and was buried at Smokey Bear Historical Park, in downtown Capitan.