blueagates

Ellensburg blue agates, seen displayed at the Rock’ N’ Tomahawk Ranch, are in consideration to be name the State Gemstone.

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House Bill 2757 calling for Ellensburg Blue Agate to be designated as the Washington state gemstone passed on third reading in the Washington House of Representatives on Wednesday and will now be introduced to the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Chris Corry , Tom Dent, Sherry Appleton, Skyler Rude, Noel Frame, Marcus Riccelli, Lauren Davis and Debra Lekanoff, passed on roll call vote 91-7

The Bill 2757 summary calls to replace petrified wood with Ellensburg Blue Agate as the official state gem. Petrified wood would be re-designated the official state vegetative fossil and the Columbian mammoth re-designated the official state vertebrate fossil.

“It's a unique opportunity. What we've done is propose a bill to honor the Ellensburg Blue, and rightly so, as the state gem. But retain the petrified wood as the state vegetative fossil, that way we're not removing it all together,” Corry said. “This was a way to keep everybody happy and you don't get to do that very often.”

Kittitas County Historical Museum director Sadie Thayer helped inform the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee about the historical facts to Ellensburg Blue Agate, which can only found near the basalt beds around Ellensburg.

“We're very excited to see it move forward to the Senate,” Thayer said. “It's a very rare gem and one of the third rarest gemstones in the world. We feel it's a great representation of the state and deserving of being the state gem.”

The Ellensburg Blue is one of the rarest gems in the world and also refereed as E-Blue. The formation dates back to millions of years and is unique because the sky blue color. It is believed the color comes from flowing through lave beds in the Kittitas Valley a million years ago.

Researchers also believe that the blue color comes from refracted light from tiny particles in the stone, which is similar to why the sky is blue itself.

They are primarily found in the Reecer Creek and Green Canyon areas but can also be found near Thorp and west toward Cle Elum. They are a product of the 47-million-year-old Teanaway Basalt. Central Washington University geology lecturer Nick Zentner theorizes the agates were carried to the valley through Green Canyon by a river that doesn’t exist at that location anymore.

Washington designated petrified wood as its official gemstone in 1975. Most of the petrified wood in Washington grew during the Miocene Epoch, 12 to 5 million years ago and played host to vast forests of cypress, oak, elm, and ginkgo trees.

House Bill 2757 passed unanimously in the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee and by a 91-7 vote in the House. Cory expects to present it to the Senate next week. Because this is a legislative short-session, there is just two weeks to make it happen, he said.

“I just need to shepherd it through the Senate, and thermostatically, in front of the governor to be signed,” Corry said. “We have a couple of weeks to get the rest of this done. I can't imagine we're going to have much delay. I'm hoping to get it before the Senate next week, or hopefully the week after.”

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