2012 Tree Heroes

Valley Oaks are the signature tree of the native California landscape. By virtue of their size, beauty, longevity and supporting role for diverse and sustainable native habitats; valley oaks represent the best in our living natural heritage.

Our Valley Oak Award is presented in recognition of the great value and significant contributions the recipient has demonstrated in helping to build the best regional urban forest in the nation.



In 1990, SMUD launched a new, visionary energy conservation program around the remarkable values of a shade tree and the commitment and energy of their rate-payers.Partnering with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, SMUD announced the goal to plant 500,000 trees to shade homes and businesses.

Called Sacramento Shade, the Tree Foundation was enlisted to help with outreach, education and the distribution of trees to SMUD customers. In turn, SMUD customers learned where to plant shade trees to maximize summer energy savings and how to grow and maintain healthy trees.

Today, Sacramento Shade is recognized as the premiere utility shade tree program in America. Nearly 500,000 shade trees have been planted and the community, as well as appreciation, continues to grow. Today, more than 200,000 SMUD households are growing energy saving shade trees, which equal the cooling value of 6,000 air conditioners.

SMUD’s vision, leadership and investment in shade trees and their customers have also contributed significantly to our air quality, and cooler and more attractive neighborhoods.

Beginning in 1998 to help alleviate the urban heat island phenomena, where urban centers have substituted natural environments with roof tops, concrete and asphalt with subsequent rising temperatures, SMUD has partnered with the Tree Foundation to offer shade trees to parks, schools and streets within the SMUD service boundaries. This popular program has graced our public spaces with over 50,000 additional shade trees.

In 2010, SMUD added yet another new element to their Sacramento Shade program: qualifying recipients of energy saving shade trees could receive one additional shade tree to help counter their carbon footprint.

Our inaugural Valley Oak Award recipient, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has demonstrated outstanding community and national leadership in energy conservation, clean air and in making their customers a trusted partner. SMUD’s foresight in making our community a better place to live, work, and play represents a thousand points of light contributing to the best regional urban forest in the nation.

C.K. McClatchy Award

Robert “Bob” J. Slobe

Bob founded the Sacramento Valley Conservancy in 1990 to preserve open space and natural habitat. During that same time period Bob envisioned Del Paso Boulevard lined with grand shade trees, and enlisted volunteers in planting more than 200 plane trees, which today grace the Boulevard’s sidewalks. Bob is active with the Woodlake Neighborhood Association in maintaining and renewing its mixed forest, as a premier example of how a neighborhood and its trees should coexist.

At his ranch in Colusa County, Bob has personally planted hundreds of trees and other native plants, to restore the stream beds, and to preserve a spread of land that serves as one of the “lungs” of the northern Sacramento Valley. To this end, Bob has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service. Bob has welcomed Audubon Society access to perform blue oak studies.

He remains committed to Camp Pollock, along the American River, so that it will be available to school children and the public for tours and outdoor experiences. One thing you can be sure of, Bob Slobe will always be doing something good for the SacramentoValley’s trees!

Austin B. Carroll Award

Lions Clubs International District 4-C5

Lions Clubs International is the largest non-governmental and secular humanitarian service organization in the world with about 1.35 million members worldwide. The local District, which has 56 clubs in 7 Counties, has a long history of planting trees. They responded to the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s challenge of planting 5 Million trees, by setting their own one year goal of planting one tree for every Lion and Leo (youth members) in the District - 1,700 trees.

A long term goal was set of planting 10 trees for each member. Local Lions and Leos from 29 clubs exceeded the District’s initial goal by planting 2,846 trees, with the Sacramento Maharlika Lions Club leading the way with 2,004 trees.

We would like to thank the Lions Clubs International District 4-C5 for their tireless work greening our region.

Growing Greenprint Award

City of Roseville

Since signing on to the regional Greenprint initiative in 2005, the City of Roseville has taken a leadership role in advancing the initiative and shown a strong commitment to improving its community and the region by enhancing and preserving its urban forest.

As a result of their commitment to the Greenprint they hired an Urban Forester, one of only five in the region. With the help of their newly hired Urban Forester, an urban forest work plan was soon adopted. In 2010, a city-wide tree inventory of was completed and software to help manage their urban forest assets was purchased.

The city boasts 5,200 acres of open space, 40,000 street trees and 66 parks, with one more one under construction.

Proper management of urban land is of utmost importance. With great commitment to urban land management and the urban forest, the City of Roseville is careful to ensure a stewardship plan is in place before new seedlings and trees are planted. From the inception of Greenprint, the City of Roseville has taken the message to heart.

Legacy Award

Kiyo's Tree

For over thirty years, Kiyo Sato has provided care and protection for a rare pink-flowering almond tree along Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova. Despite a potentially deadly cut to the tree’s roots, Kiyo was steadfast in her concern and care for this unique tree, which is fitting since almond trees signify watchfulness and promise due.

Now in her late 80s, Kiyo sought permanent protection for this tree that symbolized survival and beauty even under adverse conditions. She reached out to the Historical Society of Rancho Cordova and now this tree is permanently protected by the Rancho Cordova Public Works Department and will continue to thrive and bring beauty to the lives of the city’s residents for years to come.

An upcoming reunion for the local elementary school will commemorate the planting of an almond tree in recognition of Kiyo’s Tree. As this new almond tree grows, cuttings from Kiyo's Tree will be grafted on so that there can be more opportunities for people to enjoy the beautiful blossoms.