Thursday, February 16, 2017

Smokey Bear lobby designed to stir young imaginations - Forest Service staff is proud of new entrance, gift shop and lobby

When children visit the Smokey Bear Ranger District office of the Lincoln National Forest, they come out smiling and carrying a few free momentoes of their time at the U.S. Forest Service station in Ruidoso, along with whatever toys, books and clothing their parents may buy in the lobby gift shop. But just a few years ago, the situation was different. As Customer Service Representative George Garnett recalled Wednesday, there was a time when the stop might have been a little boring for children. He wants the public to know that today it is worth their time to come inside. “According to Larry Cordova (district wildlife biologist), it all started back in the mid-2000s,” Garnett said. “He noticed that young people would come to the Smokey Bear Ranger District and he saw how excited they were when they came out of the car. But they would run into the ranger station and there really wasn’t anything exciting in there. All we had for them was maybe a comic book and a few little gifts. We didn’t have a gift shop or anything exciting inside to see.” When Cordova was assigned to a district office in the state of Washington, it had a gift shop and he saw many others when visiting forests across the country. So he brought up the possibility of created a shop at the Cedar Creek Drive station office during a leadership meeting in Carlsbad about eight years ago, pointing out that the Smokey Bear District was where the famous bear icon actually was found during a forest fire. Of all places, the district should create a memorable experience, he argued, so that when people came inside, they were just as excited as when they got out of the car. “They started developing plans with our U.S. Forest Service engineers to turn a meeting room (toward the front entrance of the station) into a gift center and larger lobby,” Garnett said. “We had a really small entrance before and we needed more room.” nside the lobby, gifts from the Public Land Interpretive Association are displayed on shelves along one wall with all different sizes of Smokey Bear toys from large stuffed animals to keychains, Garnett said. “We have caps, T-shirts, scarves, backpack, binoculars, puzzles, lots of books, calendars and stuffed animals of every orientation,” Garnett said...more

I know this may sound like an old Scrooge, but I wonder how much this entire renovation cost?

The forest reserves were created to "improve and protect" the forests "for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States." I'm not sure how we got from there to making little kids happy.

The overall management of the forests is now controlled by the courts and the enviro law firms, so maybe the employees need something they can actually manage, like a gift shop.

And now Smokey Bear has been adopted as the mascot of anti-Trump resistance.


Anonymous said...

When I was a child in the second grade in the early 1960s, we has a period called "social studies". One of the things we studied in how forest trees got turned into products like houses, furniture, etc. As part of the materials we did a module on preventing forest fires, forest lookout towers, what rangers did, with a lot of Smokey the Bear themed items including a tin "Junior Forest Ranger" badge, which today is among the few childhood artifacts that I have. I have to say it was inspirational (you never know what is going to get a kid's interest)and got me involved in learning the material. (I just wish they had an arithmetic spirit animal to similarly inspire me.) On a trip to Washington DC two years later to see the sites, I got to see Smokey at the Washington DC zoo (the highlight of the trip ranking just above the FBI tour).

This article brought back memories of that. It is a shame that the symbol as been co-opted by self sanctimonious "resistance" opponents of the Administration. I guess that makes the rest of us collaborators in their eyes.

Anonymous said...

Sad but true. When the eastern establishment tree-huggers took over the Forest Service the concept of the "greatest good for the greatest number" became 5 people around a picnic table, located on the edge of a stream, and accessed by a paved road.

Frank DuBois said...

Two wonderful comments...thanks for posting.