Photo Prowess, Passion for Place Pack Powerful Punch
When 23-year Air Force vet Adrian Van Dellen retired from the service back in the 1990s, he began a second career as a nature photographer. He also helped re-start the Sierra Club's dormant Piney Woods Group in East Texas. One of Van Dellen's driving passions is to keep the Neches River, alongside which he lives, free-flowing. An avid kayaker, he has paddled nearly the Neches' entire length and is currently working on a paddling guide to the river. Van Dellen recently submitted the above photograph, "Misty Morn'n Fireside Coffee," to the 2007 American Rivers photo contest, where it won second place in the "People & Rivers" category. Three more of his Neches photos won recognition in the "Most Endangered Rivers" category. Last June, up to 25,000 acres of the upper Neches and its hardwood bottomlands were designated as the Neches National Wildlife Refuge, but water development interests who want to build a reservoir in that location have sued the Fish & Wildlife Service to prevent them from acquiring land for the refuge. The Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter is working hard to protect the refuge. And who knows, Van Dellen's twin passions for photography and place might just help tip the scales in favor of keeping the Neches flowing free.