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Sunday, May 26, 2024

NJ Forest Fire Service Presents Smokey Bear Paintings Statewide

PRESS RELEASE: Trenton – A special collection of original work by Rudy Wendelin, the artist whose brushstrokes and fine pencil drawings brought Smokey Bear to life on canvas and in posters recognized by millions, across multiple generations, is visiting several locations across New Jersey this summer, Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today.

The DEP’s Forest Fire Service is presenting the traveling art gallery, which features a collection of timeless Smokey Bear artwork by Wendelin, who for many years was known as Smokey Bear’s “caretaker.”

The collection is in locations around New Jersey from Saturday, July 1 through Monday, Aug. 14 and is on loan to the state from the Special Collections section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library in Washington, DC.
Smokey Bear
“Smokey Bear has been a beloved presence in American culture for nearly 80 years, reminding children and adults of the importance of preventing wildfire, a significant concern as New Jersey continues to address the worsening impacts of climate change,” said Commissioner LaTourette. “To have this priceless art collection visit our state and share the visionary talent of Rudy Wendelin is a gift to us all.

”Wendelin, who died in 2000, began his career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1933, and in 1944 was given the responsibility of bringing newly created wildfire prevention symbol Smokey Bear to life with his pencils, paints, brushes and artistic prowess.Smokey Bear (2)

Wendelin went on to create hundreds of Smokey Bear representations that highlighted natural resources conservation and wildfire prevention. Under Wendelin’s direction, Smokey Bear grew into the beloved image and national icon that he remains to this day. After a long and distinguished career, Wendelin retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 1973.

“Rudy Wendelin’s iconic artwork has brought Smokey Bear to life for generations of New Jerseyans,” said Greg McLaughlin, Administrator and Chief of the DEP’s Forest Fire Service. “As wildfire becomes more frequent and intense in New Jersey, Smokey Bear’s role as an education ambassador for the Forest Fire Service is more important than ever.”

Admission is free to the exhibit, which will be in these locations:
July 1-8Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, Cape May County, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
July 10-17Batsto Village Historic Site Visitor Center, Wharton State Forest, Burlington County, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends
July 19-23Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center, Monmouth County, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
July 25-Aug. 1Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, Liberty State Park, Hudson County, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.7-11: New Jersey State House, Trenton, Mercer County, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors interested in viewing the exhibit will be required to check in with security at the State House Annex, request to visit the exhibit and will then receive a visitor’s pass.

Created through legislation on July 4, 1906, the DEP’s Forest Fire Service is tasked with protecting life, property and natural resources from wildfire in the Garden State.

The Forest Fire Service’s primary response area is 3.72 million acres, comprising 77% of the state’s land area. To date in 2023, the Forest Fire Service has responded to 903 wildfires which have burned 16,448.25 acres across New Jersey. Twelve of these fires were considered to be major wildfires burning in excess of 100 acres.

To learn more about wildfires in New Jersey, steps to protect property and other resources, visit www.njwildfire.orgLike the Forest Fire Service’s Facebook page at the Forest Fire Service on Twitter @njdepforestfire and Instagram @newjerseyforestfireFollow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep                                                                               
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s environment and public health. The agency prioritizes addressing climate change, protecting New Jersey’s water, revitalizing its communities and managing and promoting its natural and historic resources.

For the most recent information, follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep, and LinkedIn @newjerseydep, or visit Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur.  
Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Managing Editor
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.