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House Bill Would Make Spiral Jetty A State Symbol

Soren Harward
Wikipedia Commons
The Spiral Jetty, a world-renowned earthwork, would be added to a growing list of Utah state symbols if HB 134 is enacted.

Utah already has a state vegetable (the Spanish red onion), a state insect (the honeybee) and even a state firearm (the Browning M1911 automatic pistol).

On Tuesday, House lawmakers voted to designate a state work of art, the Spiral Jetty. In northwestern Utah, the iconic rock sculpture by Robert Smithson stands out among the world’s great earthworks. It’s look changes along with the waters of the Great Salt Lake that form its canvas And, as art students in American Fork learned about it, they decided it deserves special distinction in Utah.

Now Rep. Becky Edwards, R- North Salt Lake, is sponsoring a billto add the Spiral Jetty to the list of state symbols.

“This is not a matter of personal preference or someone choosing between two things of equal importance,” she said on the House floor Tuesday. “The Spiral Jetty is so far beyond any other works of art that fall into the same category.”

Edwards pointed out that the earthwork highlights Utah’s special qualities and draws thousands of tourists.

But not all House members agreed that Spiral Jetty deserves to join state symbols like the Allosaurus, the state fossil, and the state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

“Why not a state work of art -- especially how popular it is amongst people coming in and how unique?” wondered Alex Bunker, a supporter of HB 134 and an American Fork High School senior who watched the floor debate.

House members voted, 53-17, to pass the bill. The Spiral Jetty bill is headed next to the state Senate.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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