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Virginia Department of Forestry Celebrates Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday with Unique Outdoor Activity

Richmond, VA (July 3, 2019) - Just in time for summer fun, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is partnering with the six other state forestry agencies (Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey) that comprise the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact to launch the Smokey Bear 75th Anniversary GeoTour. This program launches on July 7.

A Geocaching GeoTour offers a free and accessible adventure for families to discover destinations in a new way. GeoTours deliver the option for families to curate where they explore, and provide a thrilling search for the hidden geocache that kids love.

Geocaching HQ, the Seattle-based company that operates Geocaching.com, describes GeoTours as a marriage between tourism and geocaching. The company says geocaching is now the world’s largest treasure hunting game with more than 3 million geocaches in over 190 countries.

"Participants use technology to go outside into the woods and discover new places to find hidden treasure while learning about wildfire prevention and forests," said VDOF Prevention Program Manager Fred Turck.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. After locating the cache, players sign a logbook, re-hide the container, then share their experience by writing a short log about their find on their app or on Geocaching.com.

All geocaches have one thing in common. "There's a log book inside the cache container for you to sign. For this GeoTour, there's also a code written in the cap and on the log sheet. You have to record the code in the Smokey Bear 75th Anniversary GeoTour passport, which is available along with additional information at Midatlanticfirecompact.com/geocaching,” Turck explained.

The Smokey Bear 75th Anniversary GeoTour has 75 caches hidden across the seven states. That’s one cache for each year Smokey has reminded us to “Prevent Wildfires…Remember Only You Can!”

In Virginia, there are 11 geocaches. Each one will take players to a unique place in Virginia, where they will enjoy the outdoors and learn a bit about what VDOF is all about. Several are located within Virginia State Forests, which are celebrating an anniversary of their own…100 years and counting.

Special rewards are available for finding at least six geocaches in any state and an additional very collectible reward for finding at least 25 caches along the trail, while supplies last, so visit Geocaching.com/play/geotours/smokey-bear to see the cache locations and plan some fun with family and friends.

More information about the GeoTour is available at Midatlanticfirecompact.com/geocaching or Geocaching.com/geotours. Keep your eye out on social media, #SmokeyBear75.

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The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 108,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $21 Billion annually.

Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth, which it’s been doing now for more than 100 years. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

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