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National trail recreation group putting heat on Smokey Bear program

July 21, 2008
Filed under Features

The Smokey Bear program is being urged by a national trail recreation group to revise its current ATV fire prevention ad campaign.

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) said it has contacted the Ad Council on behalf of the group and urged them to change the ad campaign. BRC spokesperson Don Amador said the group has heard from a number of “our recreation partners and agency staff who are outraged by this PSA.”

After reviewing the ad material, BRC says the campaign is sending the wrong message to ATV riders who operate their vehicles in a legal manner with functioning USDA Forest Service-approved spark arrestors. Amador adds BRC wants to see the ad focused on educating the public about using approved spark arrestors and confining their use only to legal riding areas.

“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,” he said in the release. “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.”

The BRC’s response to the advertisement can be found at www.sharetrails.org.

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