Group says Smokey Bear ad sends wrong message to ATVers
The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail recreation group, is urging the Smokey Bear program to revise its current ATV fire prevention campaign.
According to BRC, the ad material posted at http://www.smokeybear.com/ implied that the proper way for motorized recreationists to prevent wildfires is for them to load up their vehicles and go home. The public service announcement, says BRC, is sending the wrong message to riders operating their ATVs in a legal manner with functioning USDA Forest Service approved spark arrestors.
“As an advocate for the use of legal exhaust systems on public and private lands, I found the current Smokey Bear ATV wildfire PSA to be offensive, unethical, and unprofessional,” says BRC spokesperson Don Amador. “The ad should have been focused on encouraging enthusiasts to use legal spark arrestors on their OHVs and stay on designated routes.
“Smokey Bear is inappropriately using a mountain biker as a surrogate to tell members of the motorized trail community that the best way for them to prevent wildfires is to just stay home. This ad sends the wrong message at a time when many government and civic leaders are encouraging young people to step away from their video games and get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
“BRC has heard from a number of our recreation partners and agency staff who are equally outraged by this PSA. It is our hope the Ad Council, Forest Service, and National Association of State Foresters withdraw this ad and work with BRC and other stakeholders to develop a legitimate outreach program to the OHV community.”