Forest Service Inflamed By Brooklyn Anti-Fracking Artist’s Smokey the Bear

Lopi LaRoe
Lopi LaRoe

Really.. she said it was in a national park and the Voice also said it was in a national park??? Editor, where art thou, editor?

Here’s the link and below is an excerpt:

As a kid raised by environmentalists, she grew up with him, she says, and feels a particular connection to the affable, but informative cultural touchstone invented by the US Forest Service in 1944. “So I thought it was a perfect culture-jamming opportunity to take this very familiar conservationist and turn him into an anti-fracking activist,” she told the Voice.

The Forest Service, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of LaRoe’s representation of a Smokey who tries to prevent “faucet fires.” Nearly a year after LaRoe began carrying images of a newly-radicalized Smokey Bear to protests, selling t-shirts, and circulating what soon became a viral meme online, the Forest Service asked LaRoe to cease and desist.

“The feds want to frack our national parks,” LaRoe said. “It’s not surprising that they’re coming after me to try and censor my political speech.”

For nearly two years, the Forest Service has been embroiled in a debate over whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in western Virginia’s George Washington National Park.

Personally, I think the Park/Forest convolution was very poor journalism. Not just accidentally wrong, but egregiously wrong on something very easy to understand and easy to check (like from the link within the article to the GW national forest).

Which lead me to this story the cited, which has nothing to do with the Forest Service but seems to be about giving loans to poor rural people for their homes. Weird convolutions.

4 thoughts on “Forest Service Inflamed By Brooklyn Anti-Fracking Artist’s Smokey the Bear”

  1. looks like they edited without acknowledging the correction

    char miller, director w.m. keck professor of environmental analysis environmental analysis program pomona college 185 e. sixth street claremont ca 91711 909-607-8343 [email protected] ________________________________

  2. Really, we don’t know that she said National “Park”….She may have been misquoted by a reporter based in New York City who may not even be aware of the difference between National Forests, Parks, Monuments, etc. When we worked more nationally on National Forest issues, the media would often incorrectly use the work “Park” sometimes even in headlines of our opeds in which we talked about National “Forests.” Anyway, I wouldn’t try and make too much hay out it.

    Regarding the Forest Service getting all Big Brother copyright law legal on Miss LaRoe, that too has happened before….although much props for the “Only you can prevent faucet fires” message! Back in the mid-90s activist Mat Jacobson produced a graphic of Smokey Bear hiding a chainsaw behind his back. Around the same time another image of Smokey behind bars with the caption “Free Smokey” appeared. Both times, the Forest Service sent “cease and desist.”

    Ironically, both then as now, if the Forest Service would “cease and desist” with poor land management activities the Smokey2.0 graphics wouldn’t even be needed. Good to know where the USFS’s priorities are though.

    P.S. Also worth pointing out that it’s Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. We could pick on the Village Voice blog for making the mistake (perhaps as part of some people’s efforts to ‘prove’ that Urban Easterners don’t know about “our” issues out west), but I’d estimate that most often Smokey Bear is called Smokey the Bear no matter what the location.

  3. I shared a “barracks” with an artist who worked in the local Supervisor’s Office. He drew Smokey’s evil twin, Fiery Bear, holding a drip torch in one paw and a dead deer in the other. Someone in the office liked it so much that they stole it out of his office. It is unfortunate that some continue to demonize Smokey as bad for the environment.

    Also, regarding the “the”, it has become quite cliche to correct people. I “like” Smokey on Facebook, and some people just have to correct every single poster who uses “the” in the middle. Funny that “Uncle Sam” is often “re-drawn”, with no heartburn from the government.


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