Washington state Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, is at it again with recognition for one beloved cryptid, though this time the lawmaker is eyeing a fundraising opportunity for Washington state parks through Sasquatch-branded license plates with a bill in the Legislature this year.
Senate Bill 6151 would create a specialty license plate featuring the cryptid — short for cryptozoological creature — with revenues from its sales directed toward park maintenance and improvement in the state, according to a release from Rivers’ office Jan. 10. The bill’s primary sponsor, Rivers, touted the creature’s notoriety in the area as making it a viable way to help out parks.
“I’m guessing Sasquatch has a hidden talent as a fundraiser,” Rivers, R-La Center, stated in a release, “and assuming that Sasquatch is a native Washingtonian, and our state parks are part of Sasquatch’s native habitat, it makes perfect sense to capitalize on Sasquatch’s popularity in a way that would help protect and improve that habitat.”
Sasquatch and Washington go hand in hand according to data from the expert on the source, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO). Based on the latest sighting in the state in October 2017, Washington has had over 640 total sightings reported to the BFRO, far and above second-place California’s fewer than 440.
The bill follows a previous effort last year that was written to designate Sasquatch as the official state cryptid, part of several state designations for culturally significant types of flora and fauna as well as dances, songs and even a state tartan, or cloth pattern associated with Scottish culture, according to information from the Washington state Legislature.
Rivers is not the first to push for recognition of Sasquatch in an official state capacity. According to the Secretary of State in 1970 then-governor Dan Evans signed a proclamation appointing “The Great Sasquatch” as the official state monster, complete with a lock of unidentified hair claiming to be from the creature.
SB 6151’s co-sponsors include the Senate Transportation Committee’s Democrat chair and lead Republican, and Rivers is hopeful the bill will come before the committee later this month.
Rivers was among a bipartisan majority of senators who supported last year’s legislation to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in park maintenance and improvements, the release stated. The bill went nowhere in the House of Representatives, however, and money from the special state-parks license plate created in 2006 only supports arts and education in parks.
“This won’t generate the $500 million that our Senate bill from last year would have, but the proceeds can’t help but make a dent in the backlog of maintenance that we were wanting to address,” Rivers explained in the release.
“The strong positive reaction to my bill to make Sasquatch the state cryptid proved that people of all ages are still taken by the idea that such a creature is out there. I have no doubt that some of them will like the idea of a Sasquatch license plate, and appreciate that buying one is good for the park system,” she said.
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