History of Keep Idaho Green

Keep Idaho Green (KIG) is the organization dedicated to the prevention of wildfires in the state of Idaho. KIG is teaming up with Idaho Firewise to provide a consistent fire education message throughout the state. Since 1946, Keep Idaho Green has led the campaign to reduce fires caused by human carelessness through its partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and the Idaho Department of Lands.

Historically, KIG has maintained a strong media presence with campaigns
involving characters such as Smokey Bear and the GUBERIF.  Keep
Idaho Green is active throughout the state and works closely with local
fire prevention cooperatives and counties that have, or would like to
have established fire prevention cooperatives. Keep Idaho Green
continues to have a strong media presence and promotes its message by
radio, newspapers, billboards and this website.

Background

Keep Idaho Green

The great success of the Keep Green programs in publicly addressing fire prevention issues started in Washington and Oregon. Idaho, California, and Minnesota soon started their own movements, with many other states also gradually adopting the program. By the beginning of 1949, twenty-four states had their own Keep Green programs. The American Forest Institute formed a national Keep America Green program in 1944. Celebrities like Bing Crosby, an avid outdoorsman and hunter, lent their names and images to the “Keep Green” effort.

Throughout the 1940s and 50’s, various Keep Green programs proved to be incredibly successful in educating the public about the importance of forest fire prevention. They also provided an excellent foundation for the later success of the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear campaign. While the popularity of Smokey Bear as the dominant symbol of fire suppression caused the Keep Green campaigns to eventually fade to the background, these early campaigns are still noteworthy for their incredible success. Whether due to the Keep Green program or not, forest fires in the Pacific Northwest did begin to decrease in the years following the program’s introduction.

Keep America Green Movement

The Keep Green Movement is, in simple language, a program for mass education
in forest-fire prevention. Every Keep Green movement is well rooted in the local community.

Nine-tenths of all forest fires in the United States – and they annually burn over
an area equal to that of New York State – are man-caused. These fires are the
direct result of carelessness or ignorance. They start when motorists toss burning
cigarettes out of car  windows, when hunters drop lighted matches in the woods, when
recreationists  leave untended campfires, or when farmers set fire to weeds along
their fence  lines and let the flames spread to nearby timber.

The Keep Green program is specifically aimed at preventing fire losses of that kind.
The technique has been simple and effective. Local organizations interested in fire
prevention appeal to the public on a self-help basis by pointing out how forest fires rob
everyone. They point out what fire-damaged forests mean in reduced payrolls, in
reduced buying power, in reduced output of needed materials, and in loss to the
local community and to the nation in wood resources. Local Keep Green committees
prove that forest fires are everybody’s business because they result in everybody’s loss.

The Keep Green educational job has been well done and forest fires and the
damage they do has become pretty tangible to even the most calloused and
careless citizen. They no longer see a forest fire as an impersonal thing
that burns up somebody else’s trees on some distant hillside. They see it
as it really is – a fire that is burning up potential homes, potential newsprint,
potential tax money, and potential jobs.

The Keep Green committees, through their state organizations and with the
advice and assistance of their national sponsor, the American Forest Products
Industries, Inc., keep the subject of forest-fire prevention constantly before
the public. Working through the newspapers, magazines, radio, motion pictures,
and advertising agencies, the economic logic behind the Keep America Green
slogan is being spread far and wide.  The Keep America Green ideas have grown while
the country as a whole has become more conscious of its forests. Indeed, it is
no exaggeration to say that these programs have contributed a great deal to an
increased awareness of the nation’s dependence upon forest products and the
necessity for more purposeful and constructive land management.