“River Delta’s Rebirth,” a project of the Kitsap Sun, is the winner of the 2016 Dolly Connelly Excellence in Environmental Journalism Award, presented each year by the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association.
The award was presented Friday during the Bench-Bar-Press Committee’s annual event at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle.
The project was described as “a great example of journalistic doggedness” by Montana Standard editor David McCumber, a member of the three-judge panel. “Integral to excellence in covering any big story is staying with it after most of the cameras and questions have turned elsewhere,” said McCumber. “The Elwha Dam removal made news worldwide, but only now are scientists beginning to see the great results – and now the Kitsap Sun’s readers have had the chance to see them as well.”
Peter Jackson, former editorial page editor at The Herald in Everett, observed: “Tristan Baurick seamlessly interweaves Northwest history, hydrology, and fisheries science with visual and data illustrations to create a hard-hitting story. While throwing light on the river’s rebirth, Baurick also flags the problems of bulkheads and other impediments to recover.”
Joel Connelly of SeattlePI.com, who endowed the award in his mother’s memory, praised the project as “a celebration of Northwest heritage, a demonstration of nature’s powers of recovery, and a model for restoring rivers and the salmon runs that define our region.”
The award honors Dolly Connelly, a longtime Bellingham-based freelance writer and Time-Life correspondent. Connelly wrote about battles over dams and salmon, such as controversy over Tacoma City Light dams on the Cowlitz River, the proposed Ben-Franklin Dam that would have inundated the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, and the once-proposed Rampart Dam in British Columbia’s Fraser River Canyon, which would have blocked migration of four of the world’s greatest sockeye salmon runs.
The award was also endowed by J.D. Alexander, late editor and publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.