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A motto, a flag...and a frog?

California has established an array of official state symbols, from its widely recognizable ursine flag to some state foods enshrined by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Now Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella, is hopping on the state emblem game with a bill to name the red-legged frog California's state amphibian.

The crimson-limbed critter would join the redwood, the desert tortoise and the golden trout as a recognized organic expression of California's uniqueness. The rana draytonii is currently categorized as a threatened species.

In a nod to a beloved Sacramento tradition, Pérez's bill notes that the frog achieved fame via the Mark Twain story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," a tale that leads lawmakers to get their hands dirty at an annual frog jump event.

But at its heart, Pérez said, the bill is an educational endeavor. He drafted it after elementary school students in his district, encouraged to find a connection to state politics, researched the frog's California history. Two students and their teacher will be flown up to Sacramento to testify for the bill when it comes before the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday.

"We just thought it was a great way for students to engage," Pérez said.

PHOTO:In this photo taken Monday, April 28, 2010, a red-legged frog sits in a marsh area of Mori Point Park in Pacifica. Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle/ Michael Macor.


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