Fireworks Ban? Try These Fourth Of July Alternatives

fireworks ban
Ming Xia, Flickr

With fireworks bans in place across parts of the Western U.S., it’s going to be another Fourth of July calling for alternative celebratory activities. In Colorado, where I live, we’ve learned to accept this fact, and it doesn’t stop the outdoor revelry.

Picnics and parades are standard July fourth fare, anyway, so if you happen to live in a place suffering from drought or plagued by wildfires, don’t let the lack of fireworks get you down. Instead, find a spark-free way to celebrate our nation’s birth (it also makes for a nice tribute to those victimized by said wildfires). Some suggestions:

Open flame isn’t required for a successful barbecue; use a gas grill instead.

Gather a group for a moonlight hike (this is also a good idea with regard to personal and wildlife safety). Sunset city walks are also fun; end your stroll at a wine bar or brew pub.

Get on the water. Find your nearest reservoir, lake or river, and spend the holiday appreciating this precious resource.

Ride a bike. In Boulder, where I live, Awe-struck Outdoors offers activities like creekside rides that include a bike-to-farm dinner. Get inspired, and organize your own holiday ride.

Texas wildfires: photos by National Geographic

Despite my living in Texas these days, the seriousness of the recent spate of wildfires in Texas didn’t really sink in until I checked out National Geographic and saw photos from the fire. An album recently published on www.nationalgeographic.com features photos from the Texas fires–gripping ones. National Geographic’s photographers are (of course) known for their excellence. These photos vividly bring to life a hot and pretty horrible reality that many Texans are now facing.

The wildfires in Texas are a result of a combination of factors. A fierce, hot drought is upon the state; that’s a factor. But the strong winds Texas has had lately are the true culprit behind the massive spreading of fire. More than a million acres have been burned in Texas during this fire season.

Follow this link to check out the collection of fiery photos.

Smokey Bear returns, still fighting wildfires

An icon in the advertising world returned to the airwaves recently when the Ad Council and the USDA Forest Service, launched a new campaign featuring Smokey Bear, who continues to remind us that “only you can prevent wildfires.” The new campaign includes a series of PSA’s that are already airing on television, as well as an educational DVD designed for elementary children.

Smokey first made his appearance back in 1944 and over the years he has become one of the most recognizable animated characters of all time. Smokey has educated several generations of children about the dangers of forest fires, and since his introduction, the number of acres that are burned up annually has gone down from 22 million in 1944, to 6.5 million today.

Since his humble beginnings, Smokey has been trying to warn us about wildfires and their causes. For instance, did you know that 9 out of 10 forest fires are caused by people? Most are due to campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, arson, careless discarding of smoking materials or BBQ coals. We often operate under the false assumption that they are a natural occurrence caused by lightning, and while that does happen, it is quite rare.

With his return, Smokey brings a snappy new slogan that invites you to “Get Your Smokey On.” He also continues to remind us of our responsibilities when we use fire in the wild, and that even after all these years, he still needs our help to prevent the nearly 70,000 wildfires caused by humans each year.

In another example of his jump to the 21st century, Smokey can be found on all the regular social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Or you can check out the all new Smokey at SmokeyBear.com.

(Articled edited to get Smokey’s name right! We can’t have him attacking after all!)