Butterflies are beautiful

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SELMA — Every once in a while, the city gets to brag about being the Butterfly Capital of Alabama. A book project could just seal Selma’s bragging rights for eternity.

A couple of women from Birmingham have spent the better part of 14 years photographing and writing about butterflies in Alabama. Sara Bright and Paulette Ogard want to see their “Butterflies of Alabama” published.

And Beth Motherwell, natural history editor/development officer for the University of Alabama Press, wants Selma’s designation as the butterfly capital on the title page of the book.

“Alabama has never had a butterfly book before,” Motherwell said. “I wanted the whole community to benefit from this.”

It’ll cost $6,000 for Selma to get its designation on the title page, she said.

Already a drive is under way to raise the money. The Dallas County Arts Association voted to support the project, according to Fran Pearce, one of the founding members of the association.

Nancy Smith is the official money taker. Donations may be mailed to her at 509 Tremont St., Selma.

“It should be a check and made out to the University of Alabama Press so they are tax deductible,” Smith said.

The project is well on its way, but said Smith, “we desperately need more, so if anybody can make a contribution that will be greatly appreciated,”

Smith got involved because the request came through the DCAA. There wasn’t anybody to do it.

“I just think it could be a potentially wonderful tourism stimulus for this town to be a part of this book and to have the unveiling of this book here in Selma,” Smith said.

The connections to the butterfly book, which will kick off a series of natural history books, which goes even further than 14 years back. The series is named for Philip Henry Gosse, a British naturalist, who lived in Dallas County for awhile back in the 1800s and wrote “Letters from Alabama chiefly relating to Natural History.”

The volume went out of print in England shortly before the Civil War in the U.S. The University of Alabama Press brought back the Gosse book in its Library of Alabama Classics series, which began publication in 1993.

The book is required reading for students of natural history and biology, Motherwell said.

“We’ll probably keep it in print indefinitely,” she said.