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For 74 years Smokey Bear has been the U.S. Forest Service’s national symbol for wildfire prevention. Over the years Smokey Bear has appeared in everything from TV commercials and radio to highway billboards and posters. He even has his own website; In national forests across the United States, you’ll find the beloved bear on roadside signs accompanied by various wildfire prevention and safety messages alike.


In the Shawnee National Forest State Route 146 in Elizabethtown, IL is one location where an almost life-size Smokey Bear sign has greeted travelers since the 1960’s. But after decades enduring all types of weather the elements had taken a toll on its appearance.

Keeping in the tradition of Smokey Bear’s educational aspects, the Shawnee National Forest reached out to the Harrisburg High School Ag Mechanics and Art Department for assistance in restoring the sign. Under the guidance of their teachers the students spent 34 hours prepping and painting the sign, bringing the image of Smokey Bear and his forest friends back to life as they first appeared on the sign when installed over fifty years ago.


Thanks to Wes Sherrod of Sherrod’s Collision Center the sign received multiple layers of clear coat treatments that will help Smokey and his message stay bright for future generations to enjoy.

The Forest Service would like to thank the students and teachers of Harrisburg High School and Wes Sherrod for their assistance in the project. We are happy to report that Smokey and his friends are back at their post and can be found along Route 146 just north of Elizabethtown in Hardin County, Illinois.

About Shawnee National Forest

Administered by the USDA Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit Follow us on Twitter at and Facebook via

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit