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Oklahoma State Crystal found only at the Salt Plains
Southwest Region, March 1, 2005
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Started by a student who came to the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to dig for selenite crystals with his class, the crystal is about to become the state crystal. The unique hourglass-shaped sand-inclusioned selenite crystal can be found nowhere else in the world than in the Salt Plains.

The student talked to his mother, Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson, about getting state recognition for the crystal. Senator Wilcoxson wrote a bill for the upcoming legislative session. It has passed through the house with the change from being called the "gem" of Oklahoma to the "crystal" of Oklahoma. The bill is now set to go through the senate and expects to be signed within a couple weeks.

The bill reads as follows: ------------------------------------------------------ STATE OF OKLAHOMA 1st Session of the 50th Legislature (2005) SENATE BILL 4 By: Wilcoxson AS INTRODUCED An Act relating to definitions and general provisions; making the selenite crystal the official state gem; providing for codification; and declaring an emergency. BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA: SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 98.8 of Title 25, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows: The selenite crystal is hereby designated and adopted as the official gem of the State of Oklahoma. SECTION 2. It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval. -----------------------------

It has been found a compatible use for the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to allow visitors to dig for the selenite crystals from April 1st through October 15th in a designated dig area. It is rare to pass the dig area through the school season and not see busses of children digging. The additional support from the state should add to the educational aspect of the crystal, the salt flats and the shorebirds that use the area. It is expected that as classes study the state designations, the refuge will see even more school groups from around the state.

Selenite crystals (without the hourglass-shaped sand inclusion) can be found in other areas of the state and the bill does not specify the "hourglass-shaped sand inclusion". Crystal digging occurs more often at the Salt Plains NWR than in other areas of Oklahoma. The below press release indicates that the bill is based on the Salt Plains' crystals.

------------------- The below press release can be found at: http://www.oksenate.gov/news/press_releases/press_releases_2004/pr20041216.html

Bill Filed to Make Selenite Official State Crystal A group of Oklahoma school children think it is high time one of the state's naturally occurring gems gets official recognition?and State Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson is working to make sure the gem and the students have a chance to shine. She's filed legislation to make Selenite Crystal the state's official gemstone.

The proposal came to Sen. Wilcoxson from 105 students in the third through sixth grade at Bryant and Red Oak schools. The students are part of the Moore School District's Gifted and Talented program known as S.E.A.R.C.H., which stands for ?Students Experiencing Appropriate Research and Creative Happenings.?

?I am so impressed with these children. They had done their research and found that 15 states already have an official gemstone. They proposed Selenite Crystal of Oklahoma's Great Salt Plains to be Oklahoma's official gemstone because of its unique characteristics,? said Wilcoxson, R-OKC.

Selenite is a crystallized form of gypsum, taking on the characteristics of its environment. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, iron oxide in the soil gives the crystals their reddish to chocolate brown color. Sand and clay particles are included within the crystal, often forming a unique ?hourglass? shape.

Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, will serve as co-author of the measure. Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore and Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Woodward will serve as House authors.

?What an incredible lesson for these students. They?ve learned about geology, geography, research and state government. I?m hopeful they?ll be able to see their proposal make it all the way to the Governor's desk during the 2005 legislative session,? Wilcoxson said.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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