The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is strongly urging the Smokey Bear program to revise its current ATV fire prevention campaign.
The BRC contacted the Ad Council last week strongly urging them to withdraw what the national trail recreation group calls "inaccurate and inflammatory ATV-oriented public service advertisements."
BRC reviewed the ad material and says the PSA sends the wrong message to riders operating their ATVs legally and with functioning USDA Forest Service-approved spark arrestors. BRC says it feels the ad implies that the proper way for motorized recreationists to prevent wildfires is for them to load up their vehicles and go home.
Smokey Bear has historically cautioned the public against careless acts, such as tossing a lighted cigarette out of a moving automobile or not properly extinguishing a campfire. BRC feels this ad should be focused on educating the public about using approved spark arrestors on their OHVs and confining their use to legal roads, trails, and areas.
"As an advocate for the use of legal exhaust systems on public and private lands, I found the current Smokey Bear ATV wildfire PSA to be offensive, unethical and unprofessional," Don Amador, BRC spokesperson on the use of sound compliant mufflers and spark arrestors. "The ad should have been focused on encouraging enthusiasts to use legal spark arrestors on their OHVs and stay on designated routes.
"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. 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."
"BRC has heard from a number of our recreation partners and agency staff who are equally outraged by this PSA. It is our hope the Ad Council, Forest Service, and National Association of State Foresters withdraw this ad and work with BRC and other stakeholders to develop a legitimate outreach program to the OHV community," Amador concludes.
Click here to see BRC's response to the ad.