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Red-legged frog named state amphibian

Posted: July 18, 2014 4:47 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2014 4:47 p.m.

The California red-legged frog is the official state amphibian, thanks to a group of Imperial County school children.

You probably would have guessed that California’s state mineral is gold. Its state mammal is the grizzly bear — makes sense, since the bear dominates the state flag.

Not so well known may be the state dance — West Coast Swing — or the state rock, which is serpentine, or the state insect: the not-so-flatteringly named California dogface butterfly.

But until recently, there was no official California amphibian. That is, until some school kids from Imperial County led a drive to win that honor for the threatened red-legged frog.

Mark Twain would have been proud. He made famous the Golden State’s now-official amphibian in his short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

The Golden State isn’t the only one in the union with an official amphibian. Texas has the Texas toad. Missouri and Oklahoma both lay claim to the American bullfrog.

Georgia’s state amphibian is the green tree frog, and Alabama’s is the Red Hills salamander.

The idea to claim the frog — which, truth be told, is pretty much red all over — as California’s official amphibian came from students of Sea View Elementary School near the Salton Sea, who proposed the bill. It was introduced to the Legislature by Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez of Coachella, according to the Associated Press.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation at the end of June.

The red-legged frog is considered a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act, so environmentalists — as well as Twain enthusiasts — are pleased.

“(This law) brings more public attention to an animal that is in trouble in terms of its future existence,” said Dana Michaels of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

While many share Michaels’ enthusiasm, others do not.

Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, voted against the bill when it was brought to the floor.

Quipped Knight, a candidate for California’s 25th Congressional District, “I didn’t want to discriminate against all the other amphibians.”




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