ICF Nature Photography Awards To Be Announced June 17

Media Contacts: Tom Harvey, TPWD, (512) 389-4453; Sam Mason, ICF, (956) 342-5143

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FREDERICKSBURG, Texas — The winners in what has been called world’s first all-professional nature photography tournament will be announced at a public celebration Saturday, June 17 here at the Hangar Hotel.

Seventeen world-renowned nature photographers teamed with 17 Texas Hill Country ranchers during April to compete for up to $160,000 in total prize money during the inaugural Images for Conservation Pro-Tour of Nature Photography. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is an organizing sponsor of the event and helped coordinate the involvement of rancher/landowners.

“Those attending the VIP Party and Award Celebration will have the opportunity to view some of the best nature photographs ever shot in the Texas Hill Country and meet with some of the professionals who captured those images,” said John Martin, chairman of The Images for Conservation Fund.

Tickets for the VIP Reception and Awards Celebration are $250 for a single ticket or $200 per ticket when two or more are purchased. Tickets to the Award Celebration are $125 for a single ticket or $100 each for two or more tickets. To make reservations, call Images for Conservation at (956) 381-1264 or email icfprotour@aol.com. The VIP Reception will be held from 5 — 6 p.m., and the Awards Celebration will be held from 6 -9 p.m.

The Images for Conservation Fund was formed to foster greater wildlife conservation through the promotion of sustainable nature photo tourism for private landowners. The non-profit organization will unite private landowners to attract nature photographers from around the world. The group is dedicated to wildlife conservation through economic benefits to Hill Country landowners.

The vehicle to promote this concept is the first Images for Conservation Fund Pro-Tour of Nature Photography, a world-class championship that matched top nature photographers with landowners who have taken steps to create a habitat conducive for wildlife photography. Shooting for the inaugural Pro-Tour was held during the month of April on 17 Hill Country ranches, including the ranch of singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen.

“Nature photography has the unique ability to preserve habitat permanently by making it profitable,” Martin said. “In 1996, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services estimated that more than 28 million people photographed wildlife–the same number of people who played golf that year. Golfers spend billions of dollars on their pastime each year and support thousands of golf courses around the world. Nature photographers have the potential to generate tremendous income for private landowners who lease professionally designed photo sites on prime habitat. When landowners profit from conservation, then we shall see the long-term preservation of entire natural ecosystems.”

The Pro-Tour of Nature Photography is very similar to the Professional Golfer’s Association, Martin said. “The PGA tour promotes its sport to amateurs and professionals of all abilities, thus generating demand for more golf courses. Likewise, the Images for Conservation Fund Pro-Tour of Nature Photography is intended to foster a market for photographers seeking access to private land specially prepared for photography.”

Martin also was a founder of The Valley Land Fund, a non-profit land trust located in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. Throughout its 10-year history, the Valley Land Fund’s Wildlife Photo Contest has introduced hundreds of south Texas ranchers to the beauty and value of their land’s wildlife and has inspired a generation of amateur and professional photographers to push their talents to the limit.

Participating landowners in the hill country Pro-Tour event have a minimum of 500 contiguous acres of wildlife habitat located partly or wholly in any of the following 13 counties: Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Burnet, Comal, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Medina, Real, Travis, and Uvalde. The final selection of 17 participating landowner properties was based upon the diversity of wildlife and habitat on the property and the applicant’s wildlife management practices.

Pro-Tour sponsors include the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, AEP Texas, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Toyota, CEMEX, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the City of Kerrville, the City of Bandera, Texas, The Richards Group, Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, HEB, Frost Bank and others.

The Images for Conservation Fund is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Texas. For more information, visit the ICF Web site or call Images for Conservation Executive Director Sam Mason at (956) 381-1264.

Photo Editors Note: Photos are available for news media use on the ICF website. Contact Sam Mason for assistance.

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