What is the Silver Smokey Bear Award?

Maine Forest Ranger Specialist Kent Nelson was awarded the Silver Smokey Bear Award Tuesday for his outstanding work and significant impact on wildfire prevention.

Governor Mills, Maine Forest Service Director and State Forester Patty Cormier, Chief Forest Ranger Bill Hamilton and DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal presented the award to Ranger Nelson.

Nelson is one of only two people in the nation to earn the honor this year. The award was given to him  at the Blaine House.

Who is Ranger Nelson?

Ranger Nelson has been with the Maine Forest Service for 20 years. He raises awareness on forest fire prevention with the FireWise programs - and in 2019 celebrated Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday with a year-long campaign on how you can prevent forest fires. The Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact was also part of the campaign.

"Maine is the most heavily forested state in the country, which means that wildfire prevention is something that we must take very seriously," said Governor Mills. "It is why Maine Forest Service Rangers, like Ranger Specialist Kent Nelson, are so important. Their efforts, along with those of fire departments across Maine, are critical to keeping our state safe. I am honored to congratulate Specialist Nelson on this well-deserved recognition and thank him for his efforts to safeguard our forests and protect Maine people."

"Creating awareness of ways to reduce human-caused wildfires ignition is a critical role for Maine Forest Service, and Ranger Specialist Kent Nelson is a gifted and talented ambassador to this cause who has repeatedly demonstrated creativity and innovation in crafting and disseminating engaging and effective messaging to educate the public," added DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal.

Get our free mobile app

Silver Smokey Bear Award History

The Smokey Bear Awards have been given out since 1957. The award Ranger Nelson received - The Silver Smokey Bear Award - was created to acknowledge outstanding wildfire prevention service. The award is sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters, the USDA Forest Service, and The Ad Council. The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Committee considers and votes on nominations.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national parks

Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.