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Lawmaker wants to spruce up Utah's image, make aspen the state tree

Published October 27, 2013 9:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • A Utah lawmaker is pushing legislation to change the official state tree from the Colorado blue spruce to the aspen, saying his state should not have the same state tree as Colorado.

State Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said it doesn't make sense to have a state tree with the word "Colorado" in it since the two states compete in tourism and other areas.

"The aspen just seems to be, to me, a better representative for the state," he told Provo's Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/19HxYOa ).

A bill to change the state tree was drafted at the request of Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who left his seat in the state House of Representatives earlier this month to assume his current post.

But Okerlund said the movement for the change actually started with a fourth-grade class in Sevier County. During a recent trip to central Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert was lobbied by the students to change the state tree to the aspen.

Herbert told the students he has wondered since his own fourth-grade days why the Colorado blue spruce is the state tree. The governor is open to the change should the Legislature pass the bill next session, according to his staff.

In Fishlake National Forest near Richfield, a large cluster of aspen trees connected by underground roots has the distinction of being the largest living organism on Earth.

Okerlund said he'll mention that distinction when he lobbies his colleagues to change the state tree during the session that begins in January.

He told the Daily Herald he's now looking for a new House sponsor for the bill, possibly Cox's replacement to be selected in early November.

Utah officially adopted the Colorado blue spruce as the state tree in 1933.