At the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie – where the first new bison calf of the season was spotted – presenters in the Natural Resources Expo on May 4 will share their stories with the public about how they are working with prescribed fire, how their work relates to the ecological affects from fire and information about fire safety planning. It’s all in honor of Smokey Bear’s 75 years in fire safety. The expo will take place at the Iron Bridge Trailhead from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.
At the Iron Bridge Trailhead, get up close to a fire truck that the Elwood Fire Department will display for a time. Stroll through the Natural Resources Expo to visit with specialists with Openlands, the Chicago Botanic Garden – Plants of Concern, The Nature Conservancy and more. You might even spot the new bison calf! Come look for the bison – and stay for the Nature Hikes to see bluebells, spring beauties and more; the Farm History Hikes; and Smokey Bear posters from throughout the years.
At the Welcome Center, see 19 prints by artist Rudolph Wendelin. In 1944, Wendelin, a USDA Forest Service employee, became the official artist of smokey bear. The prints span the Wendelin years from 1979 (“Smokey’s Fan Mail”) to 1996 (“High Five for Fire Protection”). 16 mm Smokey Bear films from the 1960s and 1970s will also be shown. The prints and films will be on loan from the USDA National Agricultural Library in the Washington, D.C. area for one day only. The films will be shown on a 16 mm film projector on loan from the Chicago Film Archives.
Activities on May 4th will be part of the 13th annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival.