Students Lobby for a New State Tree

Feb 4, 2014

Nine 4th graders from Angie Blomquist's class at Monroe Elementary in Sevier County traveled to the Capitol to testify on behalf of their bill to change the state tree to the quaking aspen. They posed with State Forester Brian Cottam, who also spoke in favor of the bill.
Nine 4th graders from Angie Blomquist's class at Monroe Elementary in Sevier County traveled to the Capitol to testify on behalf of their bill to change the state tree to the quaking aspen. They posed with State Forester Brian Cottam, who also spoke in favor of the bill.
Credit Judy Fahys

A group of concerned school kids made their way to the Utah State Capitol Tuesday to ask lawmakers to change one of the state’s symbols. 

Fourth-grade lobbyists say Utah needs a new state tree.  Members of Mrs. Blomquist’s class from Monroe Elementary in Sevier County pressed their case at the Capitol. Nine of the students told senators why the Colorado blue spruce should make way for the quaking aspen.

“The quaking aspen is self-pruning,” said Neomi Avery, “They take care of themselves just like Utah citizens.”

“I am Matthew Pearson,” said the student, “and I think we should change the state tree because an aspen grove has strong roots that work together like Utah’s families.”

The 4th-graders already have some high-powered support for their bill. Gov. Gary Herbert said he was on board during last week’s State of the State address. Two researchers from Utah State University testified that aspens grow in every Utah county. They also say the 106-acre Pando colony in central Utah is one organism, probably the largest single organism in the world.  Brian Cottam is Utah’s State Forester. He also supports the bill.

“From a management perspective, our aspen forests are in trouble,” said Cottam. “By passing this bill, it gives me some management guidance.”

Other state symbols include the state rock, coal, and the state cooking pot, the Dutch oven. A similar change has occurred before. The state vegetable was switched from the sugar beet to the Spanish sweet onion.