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Small chatty frog Senate’s pick for state amphibian

OLYMPIA – Last week, the onion. This week, the frog.

A week after declaring the Walla Walla sweet onion the state’s official vegetable, the state Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to declare a small loud frog the official state amphibian.

“I recommend to you this 1 1/2-inch-long little frog that sings in choruses,” Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, told the Senate.

Barring an unexpected veto by Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Pacific chorus frog – known to science as Pseudacris regilla – will join the ranks alongside Washington’s official state fish, gem, fruit, insect, grass, fossil and dance, among others.

“We didn’t hear a word from the salamander lobby, so evidently the frog is it,” said Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Seattle.

It’s the state’s most abundant frog, apparently, and a remarkably loud one, according to Fraser.

“They can sing so loud they can drown out traffic and even hit 90 decibels,” she said.

This type of frog is also a good fit for the Evergreen State, Fairley said.

For one thing, it’s found in both Eastern and Western Washington.

“It is indeed a one-Washington frog,” said Fairley.

Also, she said, the presence of frogs indicates a clean environment.

“Frogs are indeed the canary in the coal mine for our air quality,” she said, “and they are going away.”

The Senate vote capped a lobbying campaign by third-graders at Olympia’s Boston Harbor Elementary School, who wrote lawmakers and testified on behalf of the creature in front of House and Senate committees. The students played a recording of the frog’s croaking and noted that the species eats mosquitoes.

When one lawmaker asked a boy at a House hearing this year why this croaking amphibian would be a good choice for a state symbol, the boy thought for a moment.

“It has a beautiful sound,” he said.


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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.