Voting is now open for a new Oklahoma license plate design being introduced by The Nature Conservancy and featuring Oklahoma’s state mammal: the American bison. Now through Sept 7, 2016, the public can vote for their favorite of eight bison-themed license plate designs created by local design firms including Clover Partners, Cubic Design, The Lowe Group, and Staplegun. 

“Oklahomans will have a new specialty license plate design to choose from in the coming months,” said Mike Fuhr, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. “Proceeds from plate sales will benefit The Nature Conservancy’s conservation efforts in Oklahoma. We are having a hard time picking just one design from the incredible artwork created voluntarily by local design companies. So we want to know which one the public likes most… and that one will be submitted for the final design.” 

The winning design will be announced on Sept. 12, 2016 and submitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. If approved, the plate will be available for pre-sell to the public for 180 days. If 500 plates are sold within that time frame, then the plate will go into production. A portion of the proceeds from the plate will benefit the Conservancy’s conservation efforts in Oklahoma.

Bison are resilient, powerful, majestic and iconic; Oklahomans know this well. The first national preserve for bison was founded in 1907 near Cache, OK and later became the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. In 1972, Oklahoma designated bison as the state animal. Then in 1993, The Nature Conservancy re-introduced bison to the tallgrass prairie at the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska. Now in 2016, the U.S. Congress voted to make bison our national mammal.

“Great herds of bison once roamed the prairies of our nation, including Oklahoma,” said Fuhr. “And during this time of celebrating bison as our national mammal, we felt this would be a great opportunity to generate awareness about the important role bison play in maintaining Oklahoma’s native prairies.”

Because bison play a crucial role in maintaining grasslands, The Nature Conservancy maintains 13 herds throughout North America including a herd of 2,500 at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska.