Nationally acclaimed wilderness photographer Clyde Butcher — known throughout Florida for his exquisite black and white large-format photographs of the state’s landscape — and his wife, Niki, are hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Big Cypress National Preserve’s environmental education program.
Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, and Sunday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee, the weekend’s activities will provide guests with the rare opportunity to meet the husband- and-wife duo and hear stories about their adventures photographing the preserve, take Ranger-guided swamp walks and listen to Ranger lectures. Butcher also will be signing books for visitors.
“Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades have always been at the heart of my photography,” Butcher said. “During this weekend of events, I hope guests will see for themselves the jewel we have in our midst and help maintain the vitality of the Big Cypress National Preserve. It is a legacy we must pass on to our children and their children.”
During the two-day event, a 1.5-hour guided classic swamp walk tour will be offered to take participants in waist-deep water through the preserve. A 30- to 45- minute introductory swamp walk tour also is available and caters to those who might be apprehensive about the deeper preserve waters. For every paid adult on the $50 or $40 tours, a child is free. All proceeds from the Ranger-led swamp walks and a portion of the gallery’s weekend sales will be donated to the Big Cypress National Preserve’s environmental education program.
The funds contributed will be used to purchase equipment for the “Swamp Water and Me” program, which allows Collier County sixth graders to be scientists for the day, collecting data and doing experiments in the cypress, prairie and pine lands environments. For the 2015-16 school season, the program will see about 2,800 sixth graders.
The science students do everything from performing water quality tests and studying the weather to comparing soils in three different habitats and tracking Florida Panthers (aka Beanie Babies for this exercise) with radio telemetry.
“We are going on the 17th year of this program, and hopefully this experience will make these students stewards for the environment and help them really understand the importance of the Big Cypress National Preserve and the National Park Service, “ said Lisa Andrews, the outreach and education coordinator for the Big Cypress National Preserve.
“It’s wonderful when people like Clyde and Niki assist with our outreach efforts,” she added. “They have been unbelievable supporters for as long as this program has been in existence, and these events will help us reach the public and bring awareness to the National Park Service, which turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016.”
The Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery is located at US 41/Tamiami Trail (mile marker 54.5) in Ochopee. For more information on the upcoming fundraiser, visit www.ClydeButcher.com or call 1-239- 695-2428.
Clyde Butcher’s black and white photographs explore his personal relationship with the environment. For more than 40 years, Butcher’s photography has been preserving the untouched areas of the landscape on film. His images, ranging in size, are captured with an 8- by 10-inch, 11- by 14-inch, and 12- by 20-inch view camera. The large-format camera allows him to express the elaborate detail and textures that distinguish the intricacy of the landscape.
Recent projects include work for Florida’s “Save Our Rivers” program, the South Florida Water Management District, the DEP, Divisions of State Lands, the Bureau of Submerged Lands and Preserves, Everglades National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, River Keepers and the Wilderness Society.
Clyde has been honored by the State of Florida with the highest award that can be given a private citizen — the Artist Hall of Fame Award. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association and honored with the Humanitarian of the Year for 2005 from International University. He also was given the Heartland Community Service Award from the State of Florida for educating the people of Florida about the beauty of their state. The Sierra Club has gifted him with the Ansel Adams Conservation Award, which is given to a photographer who shows excellence in photography and has contributed to the public awareness of the environment.