Photo ultimately benefits wildlife fund
A photo shot by a University of Tennessee at Martin professor of biology more than a decade ago turned into artwork that has adorned special Tennessee license plates.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of those plates since 1995 has benefited the Watchable Wildlife Endowment Fund, according to state officials.
Dr. David Pitts recently received a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Phil Bredesen for contributing the photo that was used to create the plate. Pitts also was recognized at a UT Martin faculty meeting by Chancellor Tom Rakes.
The bluebird plate went on sale 13 years ago at an additional cost of $25.
A total of $22 from the sale of each plate was earmarked for the Watchable Wildlife Endowment Fund. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency began using the earnings in 1999 to fund various projects such as several observation towers, including the Black Bayou (Reelfoot Lake) Refuge Observation Tower, Blythe Ferry Crane Day Activities, Wildside Television Show, Bowmantown Wetland Walkway and Trail and the Interior Low Plateau Bird Project.
In excess of 150,000 bluebird plates have been sold so far, producing $4.9 million for the fund. The money placed in the fund is to remain in perpetuity, with the earnings available to fund non-game, endangered species and other watchable wildlife programs as determined by the TWRA.