Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz unveils legislation to create Washington state’s first-ever Smokey Bear license plate
information released, photo of Smokey courtesy of USFS archives
Commissioner Franz announced the initiative alongside Sen. T’wina Nobles, Rep. Brandy Donaghy, West Pierce Fire & Rescue Chief Jim Sharp, Department of Natural Resources Wildfire leadership and a host of local and regional district firefighters at the West Pierce Fire and Rescue’s Station 20 in Lakewood.
“A Smokey Bear license plate would let people show their support for the firefighters who put their lives on the line every season to keep us, our property and our lands safe from fire,” Commissioner Franz said. “Putting his image on vehicles across Washington will increase wildfire awareness by reminding everyone of his signature catchphrase: Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”
All revenue raised from the proposed license plates would go to wildfire prevention. DNR will need to reach a goal of 3,500 signatures for the Smokey Bear license plate to be considered by the Department of Licensing – those interested can find the petition at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/smokeybear to sign up.
“As Smokey the Bear has taught us, only you can prevent wildfires. It is not only our duty to respond to immediate threats but to proactively address climate resilience, promote clean air, and safeguard Washington’s natural legacy,” said Sen. Nobles, the bill’s primary sponsor in the Washington state Senate. “The funds raised by the plates will aid our state’s efforts in the fight against climate change, paving the way for a better, healthier future for all our neighbors.”
An identical version of the bill will be sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Donaghy.
“For nearly 80 years, Smokey has been a symbol reminding us to do our part to prevent forest fires. Each year, Washington faces more intense and prolonged fire seasons. Many of these are caused by human actions. That is why Smokey’s message has never been more important,” Rep. Donaghy said. “Smokey always reminds us that ‘only you can prevent forest fires.’ We can save lives, communities, and wild lands by taking responsibility for preventing these destructive and disastrous fires. I am proud to stand with Smokey as we further our efforts to combat forest fires.”
Since 1944 Smokey Bear has been the face of wildfire prevention around the world. A Smokey Bear license plate will let people show their support for firefighters while supporting DNR’s efforts to reduce the number of wildfires started by humans every year. The presence of Smokey Bear in the license plate will also help raise public awareness of wildfire prevention, ensuring the safety of our neighbors. Learn more about Smokey Bear at smokeybear.com.
Under this bill, the public could start purchasing license plates in October 2024 for any vehicle required to have a license plate.
Plates will cost $40 for the initial plate and $30 for renewal of a plate. This will be DNR’s first license plate and the state’s only license plate for wildfire prevention.
DNR is the state’s primary wildfire fighting force and responds every year to fires that threaten communities, natural lands and homes.