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Two employees from the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry set out on a tour of the state in a truck presenting slides and movies to schools, granges, CCC camps, PTA meetings and service clubs. The program was known as the “Showboat”, and was one of the earliest, glitziest and new-fangled attempts in Oregon to provide statewide public education on forest fire prevention.
Moving forward into the 1930s, the Tillamook Burn became the poster child for the importance of fire prevention, with two major human-caused fires that shaped public consciousness about the need to protect Oregon’s forests.
John B Woods
Around July, 1940, Oregon’s State Forester, Nels Rogers, John B. Woods Sr., Edmund Hayes, and others, started a limited Keep Oregon Green program. It was carried out at the Oregon Forest Fire Association office in Portland, with Woods serving as executive secretary and Carl Hersey as treasurer.
THE BEGINNING OF KEEP OREGON GREEN
On April 28, 1941, several hundred public officials, timber industry and civic leaders, and fire protection agency representatives gathered to lay the groundwork for a more permanent program. At a kick-off dinner and organizational meeting at the Portland Hotel, Governor Charles Sprague appointed a general committee of 65 people from all over the state. This general committee selected an eight-person executive committee, and discussed ways and means of making the program more effective. Keep Oregon Green would be an intensive and statewide effort to “reduce the number of man-caused fires, which could be accomplished by reminding all citizens frequently and in an arresting manner to be careful in the woods.”
KOG Membership Card
In the beginning, KOG was supported almost entirely by membership contributions. Membership ‘stations’ were set up all over the state at stores, filling stations, hotels and Chambers of Commerce. Interested individuals (e.g. local officials of labor unions) solicited memberships, and in return, members received tokens of appreciation for their financial support.
Oregon Green Guard
In the spring of 1942, Richard Kuehner, a 4-H Club extension agent from Lane County, was hired on a full-time basis as executive secretary. He was provided an office in the State Forestry building in Salem, the same location of the program today. Kuehner developed a unique fire prevention program for youth called the Oregon Green Guard. Kuehner was called into Army service, and Gene McNulty filled in until he was called away by the Navy. Charles Ogle, with years of experience in fire protection, took over the program.
OREGON GREEN GUARD
The main purpose of the Green Guard program was to encourage youth, 8-16 years, to remove the fuels around their farms, houses and outbuildings. Individuals or groups could participate in fire prevention projects and earn merit badges and other awards. The program was so popular that the Salem office was deluged with applications.
Keep Oregon Green Song
Reverend D.E. Millard had a strong interest in Keep Oregon Green and wrote a song for the Association. Several thousand were printed at his own expense and he furnished a supply to the KOG office for distribution to school music departments.
In many ways, Hugh Hayes gave KOG its visual identity. His whimsical and often funny visual storytelling made people smile and take notice of KOG and the need for fire prevention. He developed posters, newspaper advertisements, leaflets, and envelope art to be mailed with bank statements. He used Hollywood movies as inspiration for his artwork and messages—Gone With the Wind, Tobacco Road, and Duel in the Sun.
WELCOME TO OREGON
Dedication of a rustic log sign marker at Rainier by civic and forestry leaders of both Oregon and Washington. It was the first of a series to be erected at every major highway entrance to the state, reminding visitors to “Keep Oregon Green.” Pictured from left to right, Charles Ogle, executive secretary of KOG; Dean Paul M. Dunn, Oregon State’s School of Forestry, Merle Chessman, state highway commissioner, R.H. Baldock, state highway engineer, and T.S. Goodyear, Washington state forester.
Albert Wiesendanger was executive secretary from 1948-1980. At the time, he was a retired 39-year veteran of the US Forest Service. He is shown here hanging up the notorious Keep Oregon Green fire prevention signs which could be found all over the state.
Bob “Keep America Green” Hope takes time off from his tour through the Lake States to display this fire prevention poster, designed by American Forest Products Industries for use in schools. Bob holds the national version of the “Keep Green” reminder that was localized for various states. (Courtesy of the Forest History Society.)
Ex-Governor Douglas McKay relinquishes the job of president of the Keep Oregon Green Association to his successor, Governor Paul Patterson.
Red Hat Days
Carelessness was straining relations between sportsmen and landowners. As a result, hunters and fishermen were facing tighter restrictions and limited access. Irv Luiten, of the Izaak Walton League's Portland Chapter, helped found "Red Hat Days" to educate sportsmen to fight litter and vandalism, respect property rights and obey fish and game laws. The program was modeled after and supported by Keep Oregon Green. The campaign kickoff was typically one week prior to deer hunting season. Red hats were sold, and pledge cards and buttons were distributed. SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) eventually took over this role in 1969.
Photo of Smokey Bear at the Lamb Show in Turner, Oregon.
GOVERNOR MARK O. HATFIELD
Governor Mark O. Hatfield gets a friendly warning from Smokey Bear to Keep Oregon Green
Loud and proud.
KOG slogan painted on the side of the First National Bank of Portland.
Governor Robert Straub
Governor Robert Straub, honorary president of Keep Oregon Green Association Inc., addressed a gathering of radio-TV station managers, newspaper editors, and foresters at the Western Forestry Center (World Forestry Center today) in Portland, in the interest of forest wildfire prevention. He told the group that forest fire prevention involves a multitude of activities. Prevention programs are aimed at all ages including local residents, tourists, campers, fisherman, hunters, cyclists and Sunday drivers. The continued increase in new visitors to our state increases the need for cooperation to reach them with the Keep Oregon Green message.
John Mingus was executive secretary from 1980-2001. He previously worked as public relations manager with Georgia-Pacific’s Coos Bay Division, Oregon, and brought a wide range of experience in press relations, advertising, governmental affairs, public relations and communication to Keep Oregon Green.
KOG TRIMET TRANSIT CAMPAIGN
KOG has always been experimenting with new forms of advertising and outreach. In the 80’s, public transportation offered a unique opportunity to carry prevention messages into the Portland Metro area. At that time, Tri-Met’s ridership was estimated to be four million people per month.
WILDFIRE PREVENTION ARTWORK
The Klamath Falls Herald-News gave Keep Oregon Green some clever forest fire prevention ads in 1984. KOG converted the artwork into thousands of coloring sheets for school children. In 1986, they extended the use of the ads by converting them into color posters for distribution to forestry district field offices all over the state.
Mary Ellen Holly
Mary Ellen Holly was President/CEO from 2003-2013. She began her fire career with the USFS Rigdon Ranger District as a prevention specialist, and spent two years in the national office in Washington DC as the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Officer. She served as Deputy Fire Marshal with Eugene Fire & EMS, as well as Incline Village and Dayton in Nevada before joining KOG.
KOG Road Signs
As of 2013, there were 299 Keep Oregon Green signs all over our great state.
-6 large interstate signs at state entrances
-96 on our state highways
-182 on our county roads
-15 on Bureau of Land Management roads.
Have you seen them?
KOG's 75th Year
On April 28th, KOG officially turned 75 years old. We are proud to be the oldest Keep Green program in the country. Here is a list of some of the other states that also had Keep Green programs and the years they were initiated:
1945: Indiana, Montana*, Virginia, Mississippi, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island
1946: Idaho*, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas
1947: West Virginia, California, Utah, Texas and Georgia
Smokey Bear Plate
On August 1, the Keep Oregon Green Smokey Bear license plate was made available to the Oregon motoring public.
KOG's 80th Year
On April 28th, KOG officially turned 80 years old. We are proud to be the oldest and fully active Keep Green program in the country.