Delaware Forest Service’s Ashley Melvin earns Gold Smokey Award


Delaware Forest Service Gold Smokey Award
Delaware state forester Michael A. Valenti was on hand in Ohio as Delaware Forest Service education specialist Ashley Melvin received the Gold Smokey Award for her fire prevention efforts as part of the Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact.

DOVER – Ashley Melvin, the Delaware Forest Service’s education specialist who directs its successful Smokey Bear fire prevention program, received a Gold Smokey Award at an annual meeting of state foresters in Ohio recently. The award was presented to the Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact‘s education committee, of which Delaware is a member. The compact is comprised of seven states including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

In the world of wildfire prevention, there is no greater honor than to receive a Smokey Bear award, especially the national Gold Smokey Award. These special awards are reserved for people or organizations that provide sustained, outstanding service, with significant program impact, in the wildfire prevention arena. Honorees demonstrate innovation, creativity, commitment and passion for wildfire prevention.

The Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact’s education committee meets once or twice a year to create prototypes that help with forest fire prevention education. The group has created bandannas, large Smokey Prevention Plinko Games for events, large puzzles for children to use at events, compiled a three-DVD set of old Smokey Bear videos, songs and artwork and large fire danger signs with Smokey Bear. The group also coordinated an international multi-compact workshop in Mystic, Conn.

Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact Gold Smokey
The Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact, comprised of seven states including Delaware, received a Gold Smokey for its fire prevention efforts.

Next year, Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th Birthday. To honor the occasion, the compact created a special 16-page supplement for the Highlights children’s magazine that will appear in early 2019. The issue will be delivered to subscribers in all seven states, with an additional printing of 168,000 copes for standalone use. Veteran educator Fred Turck of Virginia, the only person to earn the coveted Gold Smokey twice for his outstanding work in fire prevention education, noted that each item takes about a year to move from concept to production.

Ashley Melvin Gold Smokey Award
Delaware Forest Service educator Ashley Melvin received the Gold Smokey Award in Ohio recently for her efforts with the Mid-Atlantic Fire Compact’s fire prevention and education committee.

Under the guidance of Melvin, the award-winning trainer-educator who received a Bronze Smokey in 2009, Smokey Bear has become one of the Delaware Forest Service’s most successful educational programs. In the past several years, the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) has provided an average of 90 Smokey Bear fire education programs per year to about 8,250 students — almost 75% of the first-graders in the entire state. Nationwide fire data indicates that human activity causes the largest number of forest fires. This is why Smokey teaches children at a very early age that they should never play with fire or use matches. During a typical Smokey Bear program, first-graders learn about the many natural benefits that trees provide: oxygen, shade, wood products and wildlife habitat. Then, students learn about how harmful a fire can be to the forest. After discussing how a fire can start, students watch a video about how children playing who discover a box of matches are tempted to start a campfire. When the “real” Smokey finally appears on the scene, the children are asked to pledge to “not play with matches ever again.”

Every student receives a gift bag of complimentary Smokey Bear materials and school supplies. Many of the bags are assembled by senior citizen volunteers from the Modern Maturity Center in Dover’s RSVP Program. Every year, volunteers put together more than 6,000 bags containing Smokey-themed comic books, wrist bands, rulers, pencils, and bookmarks.


DNREC’s Auburn Heights Preserve hosts ‘Steamin’ Days’ on the first Sunday of every month through November

YORKLYN – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Auburn Heights Preserve takes visitors back in time to explore the age of steam as it hosts “Steamin’ Day,” 12:30 – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 5, and continuing on the first Sunday of every month through November.

Visitors are invited to witness the dawn of the automotive age with a look inside the Marshall Steam Museum, which houses the largest collection of operating Stanley Steam cars in the world. During “Steamin’ Days,” the public can ride in the steam cars as well as on a one-eighth-sized operating railroad system encircling the property, see a live demonstration on how to “fire up” a steam engine, visit museum displays, take tours of the Auburn Heights mansion, and walk the trails that wind through the preserve and the town of Yorklyn.

Visitors can learn more about steam cars and their connection to the Marshall family during tours of the mansion that was home to three generations of the influential family that donated the Queen Anne Victorian mansion, land and the museum to the Division in 2008.

Tickets range from $8 – $19, depending on amenities. More information is available at , at, or by contacting Aaron Ferguson, Auburn Heights Preserve interpretive programs manager, at 302-239-5687.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

UPDATE: Victim identified from Saturday’s fatal personal watercraft accident in Sussex County

FENWICK ISLAND – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police announced today that the victim in Saturday’s fatal boating accident off Little Assawoman Bay in Sussex County has been identified as Dr. Stephen Greenhouse, 53, of Bethesda, Md.

Dr. Greenhouse was operating a personal watercraft (PWC) on July 28, when he was involved in a collision with another PWC. He later was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md., and his body was turned over to the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office for determining cause of death.

The accident remains under investigation by DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police.

Contact: Sgt. Brooke Mitchell, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9086 or 302-382-7167; or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 205


AG Denn Takes Actions To Prevent Distribution of Online Files for 3-D Printed Firearms

Attorney General Matt Denn Monday sent a cease-and desist letter to Defense Distributed ordering it not to allow access within Delaware to downloadable plans for a 3-D gun that the company was planning to make available this week. Attorney General Denn also said he was exploring a lawsuit against the company.

In addition, Attorney General Denn joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to withdraw from the recent federal settlement that opened the door for the company to post plans online to print plastic guns using 3-D printers, writing that these actions recklessly disregard public safety.

In his letter to the company, Attorney General Denn said the availability of the plans for using a 3-D printer to create an operation firearm poses a public safety threat to Delawareans.

“The State of Delaware Department of Justice will take legal action to prevent any effort by Defense Distributed intended to publish or offer individuals – including criminals – programs, codes, drawings, or other sources of data that an individual can use to create untraceable firearms. Any such action constitutes a threat to public safety and a likely violation of our criminal law,” the letter states. “A person who engages in conduct that is unlawful or unreasonable under the circumstances and who knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition that endangers the health or safety of others, is guilty of Criminal Nuisance.”

The letter sent to Sessions and Pompeo by the group of state attorneys general expressed serious concern over the federal government’s recent settlement with Defense Distributed, which in 2013 was previously instructed by the U.S. Department of State to remove downloadable files for firearms from its website.

In the group letter, the attorneys general argue that publicly available information on 3-D printed weapons will enable the production of firearms that are untraceable and undetectable by magnetometers in places such as airports, government buildings and schools. Additionally, unrestricted access to this kind of information will increase illegal trafficking of weapons across state and national borders. The attorneys general also expressed their serious concern over the Department of State’s abrupt change in position on these matters, pointing to arguments the Department of Justice and Department of State have made for years in the challenge brought by Defense Distributed.

This multistate letter was organized by AG Maura Healey of Massachusetts and includes attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police investigating fatal personal watercraft accident in Sussex County

FENWICK ISLAND – DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers are investigating a fatal boating accident involving personal watercraft (PWC) that occurred at approximately 1:41 p.m. today on Roy’s Creek off Assawoman Bay in Sussex County.

A 53-year-old man, who was operating a PWC, was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md. The name of the deceased is being withheld, pending notification of family members.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police said alcohol was not a contributing factor in the fatal PWC accident. Their investigation into the accident is ongoing, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police said Saturday evening.

Vol. 48, No. 204