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Thursday, February 6, 2003

House Passage Gives Butterfly Bill a Lift

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE A bill to name the Sandia hairstreak the official state butterfly flew out of the House with unanimous support on Wednesday.
    The measure (HB 13), which the House approved on a 57-0 vote, now goes to the Senate.
    Rep. Gail Beam, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the bill, said the tiny Sandia hairstreak, although first identified in the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque, is found throughout New Mexico.
    "This butterfly was chosen because its boundaries are primarily within the state of New Mexico," Beam said.
    Beam congratulated a group of students participating in the University of New Mexico's Wild Friends program, which backed the bill.
    "Probably every member of this body has been contacted by Wild Friends students," Beam said.
    A group of Wild Friends students from Albuquerque's Harrison Middle School watched from the House gallery as legislators approved the bill.
    "We did a lot of research," said Amanda Martinez, a 12-year-old seventh-grader.
    The Sandia hairstreak was discovered in a canyon of the Sandias in 1959. The butterfly has a 1-inch wingspan and is gold on top and green on the bottom.
    If the proposal wins the approval of the Senate and Gov. Bill Richardson, the Sandia hairstreak would join over a dozen other official state symbols.
    Those symbols include the bizcochito as the official state cookie and "Red or green?" as the official state question.
    There also are an official state flower, bird, tree, fish, animal, vegetable, gem, grass, fossil, insect and nickname.