The Tracker missed noticing in the fall of last year that the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah ran a remarkable series led by Brandon Loomis, with photographer Rick Egan and Dave Noyce editing. But the Univ. of Rhode Island's Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting did not miss it. The trio just won the world's richest journalism award, the Grantham Prize - $75,000. The check is in the mail, reports Metcalf's director of communications, Karen Southern. The award dinner was this week in Washington DC.
The series reported on the fast-changing character of Rocky Mountain forests as mountain pine beetles and other diseases and insects run amok. The result, as many outlets have been reporting for years, is a continental-scale blight triggered largely by warming climate. Even the iconic aspens of Colorado are in deep trouble.
Wow. That's a mega-prize. The stories initially ran last year, but the paper has put them all back on line in a series package, Our Dying Forests. Congratulations to the winners.
I've scanned through the whole package. The paper's story this week on the award has this summary:
Loomis and Egan in 2011 traveled a five-state region to learn why a natural, cyclical outbreak of bark beetles has exploded beyond anything witnessed in recorded history. ... His (Loomis's) reporting laid out ample evidence that climate change is creating a more hospitable environment for beetles, and a more perilous future for alpine forests, whether in the Intermountain West’s famous ski areas or the national parks that define the region. The series reported that few of these places will ever again look the same in our lifetime.
- Columbia Journalism Review/The Observatory - Curtis Brainard: Salt Lake Tribune takes Grantham Prize ;
Grist for the Mill: Metcalf Institute Press Release with background on the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment that Metcalf administers, and listing of runners up. ;
- Charlie Petit