The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance

Bill Would Make Sasquatch Washington’s Official State Cryptid

Seen here in California, probably on its way to Washington

Of course it would.

 

Senate Bill 5615 revives a measure first introduced in 2017 by Sen. Ann Rivers (R-Vancouver etc.). That bill, SB 5816, was “reintroduced and retained in present status” a few times, but never made it out of committee. That doesn’t mean it lacked support, necessarily; it was supposed to be taken up at a public hearing on February 2, 2018, but only after diligently scanning more than 40 minutes’ worth of transcript did I learn that the matter was tabled because the primary witness couldn’t make it:

I have sad news[, the committee chair said]. The sighting of a Sasquatch is not true. The young student who is proposing that—Senator Rivers said that person couldn’t make it up here today, so we’re going to try to do that at a later date. So there is no Sasquatch today.

Nor was there any Sasquatch for the rest of that session, so far as I can tell. But Sen. Rivers is trying again this year, with a new bill number and, probably more importantly, three additional sponsors from the other side of the aisle: Sen. Palumbo (D-Maltby), Sen. Pedersen (D-Seattle), and Sen. Randall (D-Bremerton).

According to this press release, the legislation was originally inspired (as are so many of these state-symbol bills) by a letter from a young constitutent. But a friend later suggested that Rivers try to build on this by also proposing the creation and sale of an official Sasquatch license plate, the revenue from which would be used to help maintain state parks. Hence, what is now SB 5611:

A new section is added to chapter 46.04 RCW to read as follows: “Sasquatch license plates” means license plates issued under RCW 46.18.200 that displays a symbol or artwork recognizing the cultural significance of Sasquatch in Washington history and folklore.

“I’m guessing Sasquatch has a hidden talent as a fundraiser,” the press release quoted Rivers as saying. “And assuming that Sasquatch is a native Washingtonian, and our state parks are part of Sasquatch’s native habitat, it makes perfect sense to capitalize on Sasquatch’s popularity in a way that would help protect and improve that habitat.”

It does make sense (though maybe not perfect sense). Sasquatch certainly has raised a lot of funds over the years, though I couldn’t find any evidence that a member of the species itself has ever displayed any particular talent for fundraising, or even shown up for a fundraiser. But Washington’s state parks would certainly be one of the better causes that Sasquatch has been asked to support, so I have no problem with that at all.

As for assuming that Sasquatch is a “native Washingtonian” who might live in one or more of the state’s many parks, well, assuming he exists at all, this further assumption would be more than fair. While Sasquatch and his relatives have reportedly been sighted all over the goddamn place, he is strongly associated with northwestern North America—Washington and British Columbia in particular. According to Skeptical Inquirer, for example, the term “Sasquatch” itself was coined in the 1920s as sort of a catchall for the “various unknown hairy giants” in the folklore of the area’s Native American tribes. These included the Ts’emekwes spoken of by members of the Lummi tribe in northern Washington, and the skoocooms feared by natives living near Mt. St. Helens in the south. There are state parks in both areas. Thus, the assumption is a fair one.

Is it a coincidence that the local governments in those areas (Whatcom and Skamania counties respectively) have enacted “Sasquatch refuge” ordinances, in one case on an “emergency” basis as hunting season approached? Probably not. Is it a coincidence that I am bringing this up, having written a book called The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance that discusses these and other unusual laws? Also probably not. And this also very well might explain my generally favorable reaction to Washington’s attempt to capitalize on Sasquatch’s popularity (although I was trying to improve my habitat, not his). But as with so many facts relating to this elusive cryptobeast, the truth remains unclear.

Rivers went on to say that the feedback on her bill has been positive and that she expects it will be good for the state. “The strong positive reaction to my bill to make Sasquatch the state cryptid proved that people of all ages are still taken by the idea that such a creature is out there,” she said in the press release. I have no doubt that some of them will like the idea of a Sasquatch license plate, and appreciate that buying one is good for the park system.” As one who strongly supports our national park system, and also the idea that people should buy pretty much anything with a picture of Sasquatch on it, I could not agree more.