Many bills brought before this year’s General Assembly were hotly debated and heavily protested. But one bill that sailed through both chambers without a hitch was HB 830, which designates six new official state symbols. Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law in June. If you’re a Tar Heel, here are your newest state designations:
- The State Fossil: Megalodon Shark Tooth
North Carolina is one of the last states to designate an official state fossil. While Georgia's state fossil is the shark's tooth (it does not specify a species), North Carolina is the only state to name a specific species' tooth.
- The State Frog: Pine Barrens Tree Frog
Many states have made frogs their official amphibian, but not many have actually created a distinct category for state frog. The Pine Barrens Tree Frog is endemic to only three distinct regions in the country, one of them in eastern North Carolina.
- The State Salamander: The Marbled Salamander
The marbled salamander is found throughout the eastern United States. In 2005, the NC Wildlife Commission created a Wildlife Action Plan that named both the Pine Barrens tree frog and the marbled salamander as priority species for conservation in the state.
- The State Marsupial: The Virginia Opossum
There aren't too many choices for a state marsupial -- the possum is the only one found in North America. The bill actually says "Whereas, the Virginia opossum is about the size of a large house cat..."
- The State Folk Art: Vollis Simpson’s Whirligigs
Vollis Simpson was a self-taught artist who began making whirligigs at his home outside Wilson, NC when he was 65 years old. His work has garnered attention worldwide and was featured in exhibitions at the NC Museum of Art, the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Simpson died in June.
- The State Art Medium: Clay
Pottery has been a prominent part of North Carolina's heritage for centuries, from Native American craft to its modern day industry based in Seagrove. In 2005, the state legislature designated Seagrove as the state's "official birthplace of traditional pottery."
North Carolina began designating official state symbols in 1941, starting with the dogwood flower as the state flower. Two years later, it added an official bird: the cardinal. Those were the only symbols for twenty years, until legislation in 1963 name the pine tree the official state tree. From then on, every few years the state has added more official symbols, some predictable (state mammal: gray squirrel) and some not so predictable (state carnivorous plant: venus fly trap). Last year, the state even designated an official spring livermush festival (The Marion Livermush Festival) and an official fall livermush festival (The Shelby Livermush Festival). Here's a full list of North Carolina's state symbols (excluding the new ones).