DesJarlais Wants to Ax Smokey the Bear?

From an American Forest Foundation news release :
Representative Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) wants to eliminate funding for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)’s conservation education program, a leader in Smokey Bear’s iconic, decades-long campaign to prevent wildfires.
Smokey Bear is one of the most recognizable figures in the United States, ranking alongside of Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus. In fact, 3 out of 4 adults are able to recall Smokey’s message of “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” without prompting.
Rep. DesJarlais proposed the drastic reductions in YouCut, an online voting program that features issues each week that members of the House of Representatives think should be eliminated from the federal budget. These proposed cuts would not reduce federal spending. To the contrary, the proposal would likely increase spending to combat wildfires and would hurt communities that rely on the public’s understanding of the value of forest products and ecosystem services.
Now is not the time to slash resources to an education program that includes hazard assessment planning and wildfire preparedness. In 2010, 36,108 human-caused wildfires burned in the southern region of the United States, an area represented in part by Rep. DesJarlais. Seeing as firefighting costs the government about $700 per acre, federal spending would be higher without Smokey Bear’s powerful message.

Desjarlais recently issued a news release on his participation in Youcut, a House Republican effort wherein citiizens are invited to pick which federal programs should be cut from the budget. The DesJarlais release lists chopping the “environmental literacy” programs as one of three cuts for people to choose from.
From the release: While students may benefit from some of the outdoors activities these programs provide, using taxpayer dollars to generate issue-oriented advocacy among school children and college students is inappropriate.

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