National Forest Foundation | Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund

Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund

The Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund is a program that improves recreation and forest health in and around the iconic Smokey Bear Ranger District – near Ruidoso, NM.

Through the Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) works with local businesses and the Village of Ruidoso to:

  • Create and restore trails;
  • Enhance recreational facilities, signage, and access around town and on National Forests; and
  • Improve overall forest health and resilience.

The Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund gives participants an easy way to have a say in the lands they use and to maintain the local economy — which is based significantly on outdoor tourism — so everyone thrives.  

The money collected stays local!

When residents and visitors enjoy the outdoors in Southern New Mexico, there’s a good chance they are on the 1.1-million-acre Lincoln National Forest. The forest is home to Smokey Bear, who was found clinging to a tree during a wildfire in 1950 and was named by the firefighters who retrieved him and who were moved by his bravery. The Village of Ruidoso is interwoven in the Smokey Bear District of the Lincoln National Forest, which defines the quality of life for residents and visitors by providing a rich opportunity to hike, ski, fish, mountain bike, OHV, hunt, and watch wildlife.

Yet, these lands are at increased risk from severe wildfires and post-fire flooding, impacting water supplies, wildlife habitat, trails, and roads.

Together we can address these critical needs, improve recreational opportunities, reduce fire risk, and truly enhance the community's vitality.

Together we can accomplish more

The Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund pools local contributions and leverages them with other funding for the greatest impact. Money is then granted back to local nonprofits or is used to contract local nonprofits or contractors to do on-the-ground work to enhance forest health and outdoor experiences on the Lincoln National Forest and adjacent lands. We hold ourselves accountable to each business partner. We report back on the status of the fund and annual accomplishments – and provide participating businesses with information they are welcome to use in their marketing materials.


The success of the Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund depends on community involvement, participation, and close coordination between partners. The NFF coordinates with the U.S. Forest Service and the community to identify high-priority projects. A committee comprised of the Forest Service, fund participants/donors, and the NFF identifies high-priority projects and makes selections. Once selected, the NFF makes grants to local nonprofits or contractors for conservation, restoration, and outdoor recreation projects that benefit the Lincoln National Forest. Past projects on the Lincoln National Forest include Sawmill Trail construction, trailhead kiosk and information boards, and improving trail signage. 

Get involved


You can develop a contribution model that works for your business. It’s up to you!

Example models that have worked for other businesses

  • $1 per room night;
  • Round up a bill;
  • Percent of overall proceeds;
  • Percent of proceeds from an item;
  • Menu item donation;
  • Customer-provided voluntary micro-donations on top of a guided trip or other purchase.

Businesses then forward guest contributions to the NFF. When your business becomes a contributing partner, you will have a seat at the table in determining projects that support the Forest and the outdoor economy.


Patronize businesses that work with the National Forest Foundation or make a personal contribution by donating.

Join a growing number of organizations dedicated to the outdoors

The Smokey Bear Stewardship Fund was originally developed by the National Forest Foundation and the Village of Ruidoso. Since then, local businesses like Noisy Water Winery and Midtown RV and Camping have joined the team. The fund is also supported by the Smokey Bear Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest. Nonprofits like Conservation Legacy, EcoServants, South Central Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Council, and others are key stewardship partners on the front lines of implementing projects.


Jeny Davis, Southern Rockies Program Associate, at [email protected]