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for people who care about the West

Blossoming fruit trees and a bounty of awards


As local orchards and vineyards gear up for business, the High Country News staff has been busier than ever. Something about this glorious time of year is bringing visitors aplenty to our headquarters here in Paonia, Colorado. Erik Cadaret of Mission Viejo, California, recently toured the office before jetting off to Utah’s national parks on a 25-day solo adventure. We also caught up with loyal readers Chris Caskey and Holly Williamson, who live on the Front Range. They stopped by HCN and Solar Energy International, then grabbed lunch from Taco Bliss, our local taco truck. Thanks for dropping in!

It’s been an exciting time for us: The Society of Professional Journalists recognized some of our staff in its Top of the Rockies Awards.

Pages from some of our award-winning content, clockwise from upper left, in issues 47.12, 47.15, 47.22 and 47.19.

Washington, D.C., correspondent Elizabeth Shogren scored first place in enterprise reporting for her feature story, “The Campaign Against Coal,” published last November. Cindy Wehling, our head of design, and longtime contributor Marshall Swearingen received second place in the infographic category for an interactive timeline of public-lands protection through the Antiquities Act. And associate designer Brooke Warren, together with contributing photographer Garrett Grove, won second place in feature story page design for last July’s “The Human Factor.” Elizabeth and Jonathan Thompson, Durango-based senior editor, also won second and third place, respectively, in general reporting for coverage of the failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the mysteries of methane gas. Cindy and Kate Schimel, our associate editor, took second place in public service journalism for their project “Why Westerners die at the hands of cops.

And that’s not all: Online editor Tay Wiles and her team snagged a first-place award for general website excellence, while Jonathan received second place in breaking news for his coverage of the Animas River spill. Way to go, team!

Finally, contributing writer Hal Herring — who chronicled his experience at the Bundy-led wildlife refuge occupation in the recent cover story, “Making Sense of Malheur” —  received the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers 2016 Ted Trueblood Award, which recognizes journalism on public lands, water and wildlife. Hats off to you, sir.

When our contributors aren’t busy winning awards, they’re writing books.  HCN contributing writer Eric Wagner just published The Once and Future River, which chronicles Seattle’s Duwamish River Superfund site and its possible restoration. Congratulations, Eric!

Now that we’ve tooted our own horn sufficiently, we want to reserve the last and highest praise for you, our readers. Thank you all for making HCN possible.