By Jesse Crittenden
Transcript Staff Writer
The Oklahoma Natural Conservancy found success with their Bison license plates in 2016, and are now having another public vote to decide the design for the new monarch-themed license plate.
Voters have until Sunday to pick their favorite of six designs, including work from locally known artists.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 170 into law on May 23, which authorized the creation of a monarch-themed to honor and raise awareness regarding monarch butterflies. Monarchs are currently being considered to be placed on the Endangered Species List by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Katie Hawk, director of communications and external affairs for the Nature Conservancy, said monarch conservation has been on their radar for several years.
"Unfortunately, over the last several decades the monarch population has been in steady decline," Hawk said. "We started efforts in 2016 to develop a statewide action plan to increase the population. They have been declining primarily because they're losing their habitats, so we're trying to increase habitats for monarchs, which will help increase the population for all pollinators."
The Nature Conservancy held a public vote for different bison-themed designs in 2016, which Hawk said helped raise awareness regarding bison conservation. They are hopeful that the same thing will happen for the current Monarch-awareness campaign.
"We just want to increase awareness," Hawk said. "And what's one thing in common with almost all adults in Oklahoma? Most of us have license plates. It's a good, simple way to help spread our message."
One of the designs was submitted by local artist Rick Sinnett. Residents may recognize Sinnett's work from several murals he has painted around Norman, including his "Butterfly Mandala" mural on the north wall of Koda CrossFit, 1210 McGee Drive.
"When the new bison license plate came out, there were lots of people on my Facebook page saying I should make a design for the new license plate," Sinnett said. "Whenever the Nature Conservancy decided they were going to do the monarchs plate, they contacted me and asked if I wanted to do it. I said absolutely."
Sinnett said he was drawn to the message of the new license plate, which is similar to the inspiration behind his own art.
"My work has always been influenced by nature," Sinnett said. "The inspiration for a lot of my art comes from just being out in nature, especially things like butterflies and moths. This license plate is right up my alley."
Two of the six designs were submitted by Bold Multimedia, 215 W. Main St.
Krystyn Richardson, an owner of Bold Multimedia, said they were excited to help support the campaign.
"After we found out about it, we thought it was an interesting concept," Richardson said. "It sounds cool to be driving and see the car in front of you have your license plate. Plus, everything the Nature Conservancy stands for is great."
The winning design will be announced on Sept. 12. The plate will then be available for pre-sale for 180 days for $38. The Nature Conservancy will get $20 from each plate to help increase pollinator habitats throughout the state.
For more information, visit www.nature.org/en-us/.
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