I want to propose Smokey Bear, who turned 60 in August, as a new symbol for proper stewardship. We Martys became Smokeyites during our years of camping. The image and message of Bear traveled with us as mentor, judge and conscience, as our sons learned to drench all embers and tattle on all smokers. Only we could prevent forest (now “wild”) fires.
Ninety-five percent of American adults are aware of Smokey Bear. His message has helped reduce the number of acres lost to forest fires annually by more than 62 percent—from 22 million when he was born to 8 million now. Anti-Bear people say that lightning causes most fires. Not so: 88 percent of wildfires are set by humans. Still, Charles Little in American Forests (May-June 1993) is typical of the editorialists who say that we need more burning, not less, since forests refresh themselves by burning. To them, Smokey is “an object of scorn.”
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).