Buffalo take place on state capitol steps

Monday, January 12th 2004, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ For the first time in a century, buffalo could be spotted Monday where the state Capitol's south steps are located.

Eight fiberglass, full-size buffalo were carted to the Capitol to kick off the Oklahoma chapter of The Nature Conservancy's ``spirit of the buffalo'' project.

Plans call for more than 100 buffalo to be dispersed throughout the Capital city and elsewhere in the state as part of the 2007 Centennial celebration.

The buffalo will be decorated by Oklahoma artists and many of them will be placed in downtown Oklahoma City, where walking tours will be available.

``Buffalo is one of the icons of this great state,'' said Gov. Brad Henry. He said they were the perfect symbol to help show off the beauty and diversity of the Oklahoma landscape.

``This is probably the first time in a hundred years that they have been on this very spot,'' said J. Larry Nichols, co-chairman of the project.

``They are big, wild and magnificent grazers that helped shape this landscape and we're excited to bring them downtown and around the state in a way that the public can really enjoy,'' he said.

Corporations, civic groups and others are being asked to purchase the buffalo for public display. Sponsorship packages cost $3,500 and $10,000.

Artists are being paid a $1,000 honorarium for their work to bring the fiberglass animals come alive with color.

The remaining proceeds will go the Nature Conservancy to help fund conservation efforts. The state chapter owns or manages 13 conservation sites covering 70,000 acres.

``This is both a fun project and a great opportunity for Oklahomans interested in wild things and wild places,'' Nichols said.

Besides Oklahoma City, buffalo art pieces eventually be taken to Enid, Bartlesville, Lawton and other locations.

Three deadlines have been established for Oklahoma artists to submit their designs to a selection committee. They are Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

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