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Standard environmental reporter wins awards

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The Montana Standard's environmental issues reporter Susan Dunlap won three awards this month.

Dunlap received a first-place award from the New Mexico Press Association's 2015 Better Newspaper Contest for her environmental reporting while a reporter at the Silver City Sun-News.

That story was about a contentious diversion and storage project planned for the Gila (pronounced hee-la) River, a tributary of the Colorado River that flows through two southwestern New Mexico counties. The planned construction project has been a flash point issue for years for both New Mexico ranchers, who say a diversion is necessary, and environmentalists, who argue conservation efforts would be both more effective and less costly in drought-stricken New Mexico.

Dunlap worked for the Silver City Sun-News in 2014, when she wrote the story. Silver City, an old mining town, is about 100 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas.

The story that won top prize in the Division II class was titled, "Interstate Stream Commission decides to divert the Gila River."

The association received over 1,500 entries for all categories.

Earlier in September, Dunlap was recognized by the nonprofit Society of Environmental Journalists with a grant of $3,500 for an investigation into western Montana’s toxic mining legacy. The grant, provided by the Fund for Environmental Journalism, will help support four proposed stories on Superfund issues in Butte and Anaconda.

Dunlap was also chosen this month to receive an all-expenses paid trip to participate in the McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute in November 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.

The institute, funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in conjunction with the University of Florida's School of Natural Resources and Environment, will host a workshop called “Covering Water in a Changing World.”

Environmental reporters from around the country will learn and discuss water and climate change issues with environmental scientists.

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