Is the Western Tiger Salamander about to become Colorado's official state amphibian?
Students across the state drafted a bill (carried by Representative Angela Williams) calling for just that. And if it passes in both houses the way it did the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee yesterday, it could join our list of state trees, insects and more, on view below.
Why should the yellow and black-spotted, slithering amphibians, who were on display in the committee room during the hearing, be given this incredible honor. Decide for yourself after watching this video -- and keep reading for our complete roster.
Page down for a list of official Colorado state symbols, emblems and icons recognized because of the efforts of Colorado schoolchildren. State Songs: "Rocky Mountain High" and "Where the Columbines Grow" Thanks to little Kari Neuman, who started a letter-writing campaign, "Rocky Mountain High" was recognized in 2007 as Colorado's state song a decade after singer John Denver's death. His ode to Colorado speaks of his love for the state. In one of the lines he claims, "You might say he was born again...in the summer of his 27th year," when he first discovered Colorado.
"Where the snowy peaks gleam in the moonlight," writes A.J. Flynn in the opening line of "Where the Columbines Grow," Colorado's first official state anthem, adopted in 1915. Flynn pays tribute to mountains and trees and a "cool summer breeze" -- embodying Colorado's great outdoors.
Flower: White and Lavender Rocky Mountain Columbine Colorado schoolchildren voted, and the Rocky Mountain Columbine was named the official state flower in 1899. If you're looking to make a bouquet out of the flowers, go ahead -- but under state law, you're allowed to gather only 25 blossoms per day.
State Tree: Blue Spruce Colorado schoolchildren paved the way for another official state symbol, the Colorado Blue Spruce. The children voted, and the Spruce was deemed the state tree in 1939.
State Insect: Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly Aurora fourth-graders lobbied for the state insect in 1996. These honeydew, tree sap and raindrop eaters are found on both sides of the Continental Divide and prefer altitudes of 7,000 feet or higher.
State Reptile: Western Painted Turtle In 2008, the Western Painted Turtle was named the official state reptile. A group of Colorado fourth-graders took the necessary legal steps to have the turtles recognized by former state Governor Bill Ritter.
Page down for more official Colorado state icons, symbols and emblems -- ones not proposed by Colorado youth. State Folk Dance: Square Dance In 1992, Colorado adopted the square dance as its official state folk dance. The dance provided our Colorado ancestors with a chance to get loose on the dance floor and form neighborly bonds within the Colorado community.
State Fish: Greenback Cutthroat Trout Things were looking fishy for the Greenback Cutthroat Trout before it was designated as the Colorado state fish in 1994. The poor fish was on the verge of extinction due to threats from the introduction of non-native trout. The Colorado Division of Wildlife and National Parks has since taken steps to protect the population, allowing the trout to be upgraded from "extinct" status to "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.
State Gemstone: Aquamarine Aquamarine was recognized as the Colorado state gemstone in 1971. Aquamarines, Latin for "water of the sea," are found -- ironically -- in the landlocked state of Colorado. Most notably, the gems are found at the summit of Mt. Antero in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado.
State Motto: "Nothing without the Deity" Nile sine numine, Latin for "Nothing without the deity," is not to be confused with its more commonly used translation, "Nothing without providence." The motto first appeared when Colorado Governor William Gilpin was looking for a suitable phrase to go along with the Colorado state seal. Discussion over the actual translation of the phrase has caused Colorado officials to specifically state in a committee report their intended translation: They promise, their interpretation is "Nothing without the deity."
State Name (Origin) Colorado was officially designated as the term for the mountainous territory in 1861. Colorado is Spanish for "colored red" -- a term used to represent the red sandstone soil of the Pike's Peak region where gold was discovered.
State Recreational Sports: Skiing and Snowboarding It's no surprise that skiing and snowboarding represent the state sports of Colorado. It's more of a surprise that they weren't officially recognized until 2008. What recreational activity held the spot before skiing and snowboarding? Square dancing took the spot.
State Tartan Tartan is plaid fabric traditionally worn to represent specific clans (families) in Scotland. The fabric was adopted by Colorado's General Assembly in 1997 as the Colorado District Tartan. Get your plaid on, because July 1 is designated as "Tartan Day" in Colorado. The Colorado house resolution reads:
"Coloradans of Scottish, Irish, and other Celtic descents have made significant contributions to the development and cultural richness of Colorado..... The district tartan...may be worn by any resident or friend of Colorado, whether or not of Celtic heritage...."
State Fossil: Stegosaurus The Stegosaurus was adopted as the official State fossil in 1982. Despite its extremely low brain-to-body ratio (and it's apparent lack of intelligence), the Stegosaurus was a fierce dinosaur. Stegos typically wore double row kite-shaped plates and spikes along the edge of their tails. Who needs intelligence when you're a walking suit of armor?
State Museum: Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum A museum with a mission to educate people about "...space endeavors of the past, present and future," Wings Over the Rockies was designated as a Colorado State museum in 1997. The museum houses historical aircrafts and modern rocket technology.
State Animal: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep The Bighorn Sheep was named the official state animal in 1961. The sheep, with their massive curling horns, are found in the rugged terrain of the Rockies. They're fun to gaze at as you're driving West along I-70 into the mountains, but hunting the state animal is illegal.
State Bird: Lark Bunting The Lark Bunting was adopted as the state bird in 1931. We could take some mating advice from these feisty birds: Male Lark Bunting are known for their dazzling ability to fly while also chirping a distinct mating song.
State Grass: Blue Grama Grass Blue Grama Grass, designated as the state grass in 1987, is extremely sensitive to disturbances. It can take over fifty years to re-establish itself if it's plowed over. The grass is native to the North American prairies, one of the most endangered eco-systems on earth. Colorado designated it as a state grass to, "help inform and educate citizens and tourists about the importance of our grasslands."
State Mineral: Rhodochrosite Looking for a Valentine's Day gift that will truly prove your love for a significant other? See if you can hack off a chunk of Rhodochrosite. With shades of pinks and reds, this official state mineral is almost impossible to cut through, so it's rarely found in jewelry.
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State Nickname: "The Centennial State" Colorado is nicknamed The Centennial State for its recognition as a state one century after the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence.
State Flag (Colors): Red, White, Blue and Gold The colors in the state flag represent the environmental aspects of Colorado: White for snow, gold for Colorado sunshine, red for red soil, and blue for blue skies.
These Colorado official state symbols, emblems and icons were compiled by State Symbols USA. For a complete list of all state symbols across the United States, visit the State Symbols USA website.
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