Smokey 75th birthday

Smokey demonstrates a bear container.

BARTON FLATS – The San Gorgonio Wilderness Association’s annual Forest Festival on Aug. 17 will celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday this year and introduce visitors to opportunities to enjoy and protect the forest.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Barton Flats Visitor Center, located on State Highway 38 about seven miles east of Angelus Oaks. The family-friendly festival is free and open to the public. Picnic facilities are available. Food and beverages will be available.

Smokey Bear will greet visitors as they use a crosscut saw to create a “tree cookie” that is then branded with U.S. Forest Service and Smokey Bear logos; pan for gold; try their hand at nature crafts; learn what it takes to serve on a search-and-rescue team; meet experts on California native plants; and visit with members of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association, who patrol and maintain wilderness trails, and provide interpretive programs. Information also will be presented about Leave No Trace, a nationwide program of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics that emphasizes sustainable no-trace travel and camping practices.

Nature walks around the visitor center will be offered as part of a Junior Ranger program, and visitors will see the power of water as they observe the tons of sand, rock, and debris that flooded the visitor center in a torrential Valentine’s Day storm.

Birthday cake will be served as part of Smokey’s birthday celebration.

SGWA is a nonprofit that works with the U.S. Forest Service to protect the forest in and around the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and educate the public about this natural resource. In 2018 SGWA members donated more than 20,000 hours, valued by the U.S. Forest Service at approximately $500,000. They engaged more than 100,000 forest visitors on wilderness trails and at interpretive sites; presented programs at the Barton Flats Visitor Center and Greyback Amphitheater; destroyed illegal fire rings in the wilderness; removed more than 100 trees that blocked wilderness trails; and measured and collected data on wilderness trails.

For more information about the Forest Festival or the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association please call the association at (909) 389-9650, or e-mail sgwa@earthlink.net. The association website is sgwa.org.

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