Salt Lake City Paper Wins $75,000 Journalism Award

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s ‘Our Dying Forests’ series is recognized for extensive reporting on dying forests across the western U.S. Tribune reporter Brandon Loomis points to ‘a clear climate connection.’

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s “Our Dying Forests” series is the winner of the $75,000 2012 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting, administered by the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, and funded by The Grantham Prize for Protection of the Environment.*

Tribune reporter Brandon Loomis, in a three-minute Grantham Prize video, describes an “unprecedented level” of forest loss across the western U.S. over the past 15 years, saying beetle kills have done in about 40 million acres. He said that on starting the project in 2011, he had anticipated hearing a lot about the natural cycle of forests and “some theories” about the impact of a changing climate.

Instead, “everywhere we went, the entomologists told us the beetles are responding differently now. There’s such a clear climate connection.” The paper’s series looked extensively at white bark pine at very high elevations in Wyoming around the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and at high-alpine areas. With fewer winter season cold snaps, Loomis says in the video, larvae and offspring survive to kill again in the following season.

Loomis said the prize “helps make the case for in-depth environmental reporting,” and he said his paper will return to the subject in part because of the recognition bestowed by the Grantham Prize.

What did he personally learn from his reporting experience? “Climate change is all around us. It’s not just Arctic sea ice or glaciers receding,” he said in the YouTube video.

Among three additional Prize entries winning a $5,000 Award of Special Merit is an online feature done at the University of North Carolina that was the subject of an earlier Yale Forum feature.

*The Grantham Prize is funded by the same foundation that helps fund The Yale Forum, whose editor is responsible for coordinating with the five Grantham Prize jurors.

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