Senate votes to change Utah’s state tree
Published: February 10, 2014 09:46PM
Updated: February 10, 2014 08:07PM

Senators voted unanimously Monday to chop down the Colorado blue spruce as Utah’s official state tree, replacing it with the more ubiquitous quaking aspen.

The proposed change was the product of fourth-graders at Monroe Elementary, who lobbied Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature to make the switch.

The argument was that the blue spruce — in addition to having Colorado in its name — is found in only 1 percent of Utah forests, while the aspen grows in 10 percent.

And, noted Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, the Pando Clone — a system of aspen trees that shares the same root system and grows near Fish Lake — is recognized as the largest living organism on Earth.

Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay, said the change to the aspen is an appropriate symbol.

“These roots are connected with each other,” she said, “and I think it represents our connectivity in our state.”

The state tree is one of 32 officially recognized state symbols, including the state fish (Bonneville cutthroat trout), emblem (beehive), flower (sego lily), fossil (allosaurus), insect (bee), fruit (cherry) and mineral (copper).

The state bird remains the California gull.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke