Oaks Conservation Society
to sell limited edition photo
of historic arch to support preservation
(May 2006) In 1995, after 54 years as an ammunitions
testing ground, the U.S. Army closed the Jefferson Proving Ground, which
lies in Ripley, Jennings and Jefferson counties in Indiana. In 2000,
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under an agreement with the Army
and U.S. Air Force, opened the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge on
the northern end of the former Jefferson Proving Ground.
Oaks Conservation Society is
selling this limited edition framed
photo taken by W.P. Branham as
a fund raiser for preservation.
With 51,000 acres, Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge contains
the largest unfragmented forested block in southeastern Indiana and
some of the largest grassland areas found within the region. The refuge
is home to more than 200 species of birds, 46 species of mammals, 24
species of amphibians and 17 species of reptiles. Several of these wildlife
species are on endangered or special concern lists.
Joe Robb, manager of the refuge, said that while the wildlife refuge
has been open to the public for several years, many people in the surrounding
area still do not know of its existence. In addition to the conservation
efforts at the refuge, there are wonderful educational and recreational
opportunities available for the general public, he said.
Part of the refuge, about 4,000 acres in the northeastern section, is
open to the public and provides opportunities such as boating and fishing,
hunting white-tailed deer and wild turkey, bird watching, hiking, guided
tours and environmental and educational programs.
A non-profit group, the Big Oaks Conservation Society, was formed shortly
after the refuge opened by people concerned about it. The groups
goal is to help develop educational programs and enhance public awareness
of the refuge. Big Oaks Conservation Society has developed a fund-raising
program called Project ARCH, to promote the awareness of the refuge
and to help raise funds to support it. The group also hopes the publicity
from Project ARCH will draw visitors to the refuge.
George Terlinden, president of the society, said there are about 100
members dedicated to providing support for the refuge. The members volunteer
for various tasks at the refuge, including working the gates for special
events and general cleanup around the sanctuary. Members are also involved
in bird counts, and they help to rid the refuge of invasive plant species,
which choke out the plants native to this region. The society co-chairs
the annual Youth Turkey hunt and sponsors the Take A Kid Fishing Day.
The society also helps host the annual Outdoor Women at Big Oaks program,
which is aimed at providing women the opportunity to learn and participate
in outdoor skills.
The group, also called friends of the refuge, decided a fund-raiser
involving photographs of key sites in the wildlife sanctuary would help
raise publicity in addition to generating cash to help financially support
it. James Gilley, chairman of Project ARCH, said the main goal of the
project is to network with other organizations and encourage additional
users to the refuge.
Fine arts photographer William Paul Branham Jr., of Sellersburg, Ind.,
was commissioned to do the photography in Project ARCH. Branham, who
owns W. P. Branham Photography, selected one of the stone arch bridges
that exist in the refuge as the signature piece of artwork for the project.
He said that he concentrated on using the bridge as a symbol of the
refuge because of the need to protect the historic structures in it.
There are between five and seven of these magnificent bridges throughout
the wildlife refuge.
Ironically, while ARCH is actually an acronym for Arts, Recreation,
Conservation and History, it aptly names the project because of the
stone arches in the bridge that was photographed.
While visiting Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge on April 11, U.S. Interior
Acting Secretary Lynn Scarlett was presented with the first limited
edition print of the photograph. Another print is on display at the
main branch of River Valley Financial Bank on Clifty Drive in Madison.
Terlinden said there will only be 125 of the limited edition prints.
Each print will cost $80 unframed and will be shipped in the tube directly
to the purchaser. There is also the option of purchasing a framed print
for $225. The society is also providing the opportunity to receive a
print shipped in the tube for anyone establishing a $200 life membership
in Big Oaks Conservation Society. Normally, a membership costs $150,
so this will allow a person to save on the cost of the print. He also
said the society has left open the possibility of having future photographs
taken of several of the historic bridges and possibly other historic
structures within Big Oaks Wildlife Refuge.
Anyone interested in purchasing a limited edition print of the bridge
photo can contact April Gilley at email@example.com or George
Terlinden at (812) 273-1483 and leave a message with a return phone
Anyone interested in more information about
the Big Oaks Conservation Society can visit: www.bigoaks.org.
Those interested in information about Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge
should contact the refuge at (812) 273-0783. Anyone interested in W.
P. Branham Photography can visit: www.wpbranham.com.
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