A wooden tribute to the female bear cub rescued from the 416 Fire has moved into the Durango Welcome Center.
Alpine Bank donated a bench depicting the beloved cub and Smokey Bear to the center Monday afternoon. The bench is also engraved with the message “only you,” a reference to the slogan “only you can prevent forest fires.”
Local artist Travis Reed crafted the bench during Carve Wars, a chainsaw art contest held at Purgatory Resort, where it won first place. The contest was held in early July about a month after the 54,000-acre 416 Fire started 10 miles north of Durango.
Alpine Bank bought the bench at the contest with the intention of donating it, bank president Eric Eicher said.
The piece fits in well with the forest fire prevention messages the Durango Area Tourism Office plans to promote next year, said Theresa Blake Graven, a public relations strategist for the office. DATO runs the Welcome Center as part of its marketing efforts.
“It’s just a good talking point for everyone here now, and a good reminder of what can happen,” Eicher said.
The office also plans to educate visitors about how to treat public land to prevent some of the negative side effects of heavy visitation, such as increased litter and widening of trails, Blake Graven said. At least some of the messages will be promoted online, so visitors can be educated before they arrive, she said.
The Colorado Tourism Office is partnering with the nonprofit Leave No Trace on a strategy to promote similar messages statewide, she said.