Splash! A great blue heron dives into a lake to snatch a fish. At the lake’s edge, a moose lowers its snout to lap up a drink. A few hundred feet away, a wild turkey struts across the ground looking for insects to eat. This is Fishlake National Forest, a 1.5-million-acre stretch of land in Utah. Native people have lived on this land for around 12,000 years, and the land that’s now the national forest is the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of the Ute (YOOT) people.
Fishlake National Forest is named after Fish Lake, the largest natural mountain lake in Utah. This 5-mile-long, 128-foot-deep body of water boasts a variety of fish including mackinaw trout, which can weigh up to fifty pounds. That’s as much as about four bowling balls!
In addition to Fish Lake, the preserve has forested mountains and valleys. The land is not only home to great blue herons, moose, and wild turkeys. Many other animals including mountain goats and black bears dwell here too. In fact over 300 animal species live within the national forest. The area also has an odd resident—a giant named Pando.
Pando looks like a huge cluster of aspen trees. But the over 40,000 trees in this grove share the same enormous, twisting root system, which emerged from one seed. So scientists consider Pando to be a single organism, or living thing. Pando spans over 106 acres of Fishlake National Forest, possibly making it the most massive known living thing on Earth. With Pando and all the other cool wildlife here, it's no wonder Fishlake National Forest is a big deal!