A stamp honoring Smokey Bear, the familiar symbol of the US Forest Service's forest fire prevention campaign, was issued August 13, 1984, in Capitan, New Mexico. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held at the Capitan Municipal School. The stamp was designed by Rudolph Wendelin of Arlington, Virginia, and modeled by Frank J. Waslick.
In 1950, a camper's carelessness caused a raging fire in the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan. After bringing the fire under control, forest rangers spotted a severely burned bear cub clinging to the top of a charred tree. The frightened bear, nicknamed "Hotfoot Teddy" by the rangers, was rescued and treated for burns. He later was renamed "Smokey" after the poster bear and was donated to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The original Smokey died in 1976, and another bear at the National Zoo carries on the tradition and name.
Today, Smokey Bear is widely recognized as the symbol for forest fire prevention, and the US Forest Service's Smokey Bear fire prevention campaigns have been credited with significantly reducing the number of forest fires each year.
The stamp was printed in the offset/intaglio process and issued in panes of fifty.
Postal Bulletin (July 12, 1984).