By Sterling Randle
SALT LAKE CITY — SB41, a bill that would change the state tree from the Colorado blue spruce to the Quaking Aspen, passed in the Senate on Monday, Feb. 11, 2014.
Fourth graders, their teachers and parents, from Monroe, UT packed the seats in the gallery, and istened as Sen. Ralph Okurlund, R-Monroe, spoke on the topic, “The blue spruce, which became the state tree in 1933, makes up less than 1% of Utah’s forest cover and it predominantly found in northern Utah, whereas the Quaking Aspen makes up about 10% of the forest cover in the state and are found in all parts of the state, on all borders and every place between.”
Sen. Okurlund also explained that a certain group of Quaking Aspen called the Pando Clone, located near Fish Lake, Utah, is the largest living organism. Pando, which is Latin for, “I spread,” covers 106 acres and is made up of an estimated 47,000 stems and trees, all of which originate from the same root system.
The Quaking Aspen better represents Utah, according to presentations by some of the students: The ski resorts are covered in aspens; prized game animals thrive in aspen littered areas and aspens holds less water, leaving more for us, than the do spruces.
Fourth grade teacher Angie Blomquist said, “It’s been quite a process. We’ve been teaching the kids the [legislative] process through their experiences. This feeling is equal to Christmas. I have all my students around me. We’re all learning. It’s great.”
One of her students, Aubrey Child, said, “I felt happy when everyone clapped. We’ve been working so hard on this.”
After the vote was taken the elementary students filed out of the gallery and onto the steps of the rotunda to take a picture. They fidgeted, squirmed, spun, shouted but ultimately they may just have made a difference.