As a long-time resident of Cody, Wyoming, I am surrounded by heroes. From the driven professionals who teach our children to the dedicated and selfless staff of our police, fire and other public-service departments, there is a huge population of heroes among us.
That fact has become abundantly clear recently as skilled and dedicated firefighters battle wildfires in Yellowstone National Park and along the North Fork of the Shoshone River. As sometimes happens in the late summer, lightning-caused fires occur, and the trifecta of high temperatures, high winds and low humidity can increase the danger of those fires spreading.
The National Park Service reminds us that fires play a natural role in the ecosystem, and firefighters manage each fire based on current and predicted conditions as well as risk to structures. Lightning causes many wildfires, but from time to time there will be human-caused fires as well.
Firefighters who continue to put their lives at risk as they protect ours are my heroes. I hope you’ll join me in thanking the many smokejumpers, pilots, hotshot crews and other skilled professionals that help to protect us.
Who doesn’t remember Smokey the Bear reminding us that “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”? That lovable-but-stern bear was one of my childhood heroes. I thought the cockeyed ranger’s cap bearing his name was adorable, and I listened closely to his serious messages about careful use of matches. I believed him when he calmly explained that I can prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires. And although his message may seem dated to my younger, always-connected friends, most people my age remember to this day the posters and advertisements that taught us how to prevent fires.
Created by the Ad Council in 1944 and still used today by the United States Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, the campaign was one of the longest-running public service ad campaigns in history.
Yellowstone Country will continue to be at risk of wildfires until the snow flies, which around here could be as early as next month. Until then, please remember the words of that lovable bear, and be careful out there.
Until next time, I’m loving life and thanking my heroes here in Yellowstone Country.