In Utah, largest known aspen grove in decline

Published October 20, 2010 10:54 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sevier • Scientists are warning of the decline of the world's largest known organism — a grove of thousands of aspen trees connected by the same root system in Utah's Fishlake National Forest.

The grove covers 106 acres across the flanks of mountains near Fish Lake, but many of the trees are dying from drought or beetles and are not being replaced by saplings.

The lack of new growth is the most disturbing part for Utah State University scientists.

They say deer and elk may be nibbling the aspen sprouts as soon as they come up.

Scientists have tried to guess the age of the aspen grove — with estimated 47,000 quaking aspens of identical DNA — but haven't nailed it down. They say it ranges from a few thousand to possibly a million years old.