By Dianna Douglas
Tree envy is running rampant.
Utah just beat out Colorado as home to the biggest blue spruce in the world, according to the State of Utah Department of Natural Resources.
Botanist Sherel Goodrich found Utah”s winning blue spruce in 1980 in the Ashley National Forest in Wasatch County, and nominated it to the Forest Service in Washington, D.C., said Tony Dietz, urban forestry coordinator for the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. But it didn”t make the cut — yet.
“Colorado held the record for the biggest blue spruce at that time,” Dietz said, “so no one visited the tree for 20 years.”
Both Utah and Colorado claim the blue spruce as state trees, so a battle ensued over which state would hold the record in the “American Forestry Association”s National Register of Big Trees” for biggest blue spruce.
But Utah just won by default, because Colorado”s champion blue spruce died.
Utah”s winning spruce stands taller than the Kimball tower — 127 feet high with a circumference of 190.3 inches.
Dietz and Goodrich are among the few people who have actually seen the tree, and driving out to see it is an all-day affair involving mountain curves, gravel roads and a long hike.
“It might seem silly to some, but to those of us who love trees, we like to find the biggest and the best,” Dietz said.
And they have. The blue spruce has now joined the ranks of Utah”s other national champions-the Rocky Mountain juniper, Limber pine, Cliffrose, Rocky Mountain White fir, and Alderleaf cercocarpus.
“Big tree designations are made on most species throughout the United States,” said Dietz. The national register currently lists more than 700 champion native and naturalized tree species.
The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said all hikers, tree-lovers, campers and wilderness enthusiasts should be on the lookout for champion-sized trees. Successful tree finders” names will appear in the national register and in the Utah register of champion trees.