Paul M. Rokich, an environmental engineer for Kennecott, has planted 60,000 trees in the Oquirrh Mountains in the last 32 years and for that fete will receive the first Jean Giono Award of the American Forestry Association's Global ReLeaf campaign.
The announcement was made Friday in Washington, D.C., by R. Neil Sampson, AFA executive vice president, and will be awarded during a Friday evening of recognition for tree-planting organizations and their corporate sponsors. The award carries $1,000 in cash."Millions of people have just recently become aware of the urgent call to plant trees to improve the environment. Paul Rokich heard the call 32 years ago and since then he hasn't stopped planting and caring for trees," said Sampson. The award was named for the late French novelist Jean Giono, who wrote "The Man Who Planted Trees" in 1950.
Rokich grew up near the Oquirrh Mountains where excessive logging, overgrazing, fire and industrial pollution took its toll on the Douglas fir, aspen and juniper trees. He planted his first tree in 1958, often dodging the Kennecott security guards.
Later, Rokich, who lives at 4940 Lark Way, received permission to plant trees at his own expense on Kennecott property and in 1973 the company hired him to help reclaim and restore its land.
Today he plants and cares for trees on and off the job, often working with citizen volunteers. He recently developed a huge sophisticated tree planting project featuring the largest drip irrigation system in the west.