This striking photograph of American Lotus at dawn in the Great Plains is the top winner in the 2013 National Natural Landmarks Program Photo Contest run by the National Park Service.
Kenneth M. Highfill of Lawrence, Kansas, captured the image at the Baker University Wetlands, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1969 as an example of undisturbed wetland prairie. More than 260 species of birds and more than 430 species of plants have been recorded at the site, including the American Lotus flowers captured in Mr. Highfill’s winning photograph.
“These stunning photographs highlight the beauty and variety of our nation’s natural landscape,” said Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They celebrate the great diversity, significance and beauty of our nation’s natural history, and underscore the importance of resource preservation by our partners across the country.”
The 10th annual contest drew 88 images representing 71 different National Natural Landmark sites across 31 states and Puerto Rico. Second place went to Eric Grimm of San Diego, California for his photo of a reflected sunrise at Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe, and third place went to Joseph Henry of Davis, West Virginia for his image of the Canaan Valley in northeastern West Virginia.
The three winning photos and 10 honorable mentions will be featured in the 2014 National Natural Landmarks calendar.
There are 596 designated National Natural Landmarks across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The National Natural Landmarks Program was established in 1962 by the Secretary of the Interior under the authority of the Historic Sites Act of 1935 to encourage the preservation of the best remaining examples of the major biotic communities and geologic features composing the nation’s natural landscape.
The program is managed by the National Park Service and is the only natural areas program of national scope that identifies and recognizes the best examples of biological and geological features in both public and private ownership.
You can view the award-winning photographs in this year's contest at this site.