Black Hills National Forest has historic art work on display of Smokey Bear

CUSTER, S.D, (KOTA TV) - Smokey Bear is turning 75 this year and those with Black Hills National Forest are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the iconic bear and his wildfire prevention campaign.

He doesn't actually turn 75 until August but celebrations are held throughout the year with the Black Hills National Forest celebration being very unique. They are just one of 10 forests that will have artist Rudolph Wendelin's historic replica portraits of Smokey on Display. Wendelin worked for the forest service starting in 1933. He was given full responsibility for the Smokey Bear project and created hundreds of portraits of the bear through the years highlighting forest fire prevention.

"We just want to keep Smokey alive and out there and have people be aware that they need to keep the forest clean because they are a beautiful assets for our areas and just be aware of the fires," said Connie Davis with the U.S. Forest Service. "I just think it's a great honor and everybody loves Smokey from the older folks to the younger folks."

The display will be open for viewing all this week from 9 4 p.m. Offices will be open on March 14t and 19, until 5 p.m. and Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free birthday cake will be provided this Friday, March 15, at 2 p.m. All of this is happening at their office in Custer.