Study finds huge aspen grove continues to decline

(Erin Alberty | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fall foliage glows in the afternoon sun Oct. 4, 2017 at the Pando aspen grove in Sevier County. Pando is the largest aspen clone — and most massive living thing — known on earth.

Logan • A new study finds a Utah aspen grove considered the world’s largest living organism is continuing to decline despite new fencing designed to keep out mule deer whose appetites are blamed for its deterioration.

The Logan Herald Journal reports that two Utah State University professors found that some fencing constructed in 2013 is keeping the deer from eating the trees, but additional barriers put up in 2014 don’t seem to have protected the colony known as Pando, located in Fishlake National Forest.

Utah State extension professor Darren McAvoy says that's likely because falling trees have knocked over the fence, allowing the deer back inside.

The grove originated from a single seed hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and now consists of over 40,000 genetically identical trees that share one root system.