It’s once again time to grab your camera and head outdoors.  The 10th annual National Natural Landmarks Program photo contest is officially open.

“This contest is an opportunity for people to experience and celebrate our shared natural heritage,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “From staggering rock formations to unique forests, we are in search of images that capture the diversity, beauty and educational value these significant natural areas represent.”

Winning photographs will be featured in the 2014 National Natural Landmarks Calendar.

The National Park Service’s National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes significant examples of biological and geological features. The program also supports the cooperative conservation of these important examples of America’s natural heritage.

National natural landmarks are designated by the Secretary of the Interior following rigorous scientific study. These landmarks include features on private, state, municipal and federal lands. Program participation is voluntary. Not all landmark sites are open to the public.

Further information about the National Natural Landmarks Program, including a complete list of designated sites and their accessibility is available at www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/

There are nearly 600 national natural landmarks nationwide representing an array of features. Top honors for the 2012 contest – featured on this year’s calendar – went to photographers whose images featured the old-growth hemlock-hardwood forest of Michigan’s Porcupine Mountain, the dwarfed alpine vegetation along the ridge of Bigelow Mountain in Maine, and the stratigraphically-controlled spring and cascading waters of California’s Burney Falls.  Special places like these are found nation-wide, so there is likely to be a landmark site open to public visitation near you.

Contest entries will be accepted through June 30, 2013. Winners will be announced in September.

Each photographer may submit up to three entries. Each photograph must be from a different national natural landmark. Images of the 13 sites featured in the 2013 calendar will not be accepted.

Those winning photos can be viewed at http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/currentwinners.cfm

Image courtesy National Park Service

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