Outdoors editor Dave Orrick wins DFMie for feature journalism

Dave Orrick, self-portrait at a campsite on Isabella Lake while reporting on the Pagami Creek Fire in the Boundary Waters.
Headline: After the fire, Boundary Waters is 'open for business'
Outlet: Pioneer Press
Journalist: Dave Orrick
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Dave Orrick, outdoors editor of the Pioneer Press, wins the DFMie for feature/lifestyle/entertainment journalism for his reporting on a forest rebounding from a wildfire.

Editor Mike Burbach explained the coverage in his nomination:

Almost every media outlet in the state covered the Pagami Creek Wildfire of 2011. It captured attention with its destructive power and beauty.

Not many came back to revisit the scene, though. Orrick did, and found it “open for business,” but home to strange beauty in charred trees and testimony to nature’s recuperative power. Orrick spent a week hoofing and canoeing to document what had — and hadn’t — changed.

Judges say why they chose Orrick as the feature winner:

In simple yet vivid language, Dave Orrick’s stories of the Pagami fire explain the complex choreography between a forest fire, emergency responders, residents and rangers. Orrick shows the beauty and devastation of the fire’s aftermath, taking readers along charred paths, navigating spearlike remains of fir trunks and seeking respite from the “plague” of biting flies — all while seeking glimpses of rebirth. In his opening article, he warns the readers that his accounts will be poor substitute for seeing it themselves, but his recounting brings them pretty close.

Other finalists in the feature/lifestyle/entertainment category were:

As outdoors editor for the Pioneer Press, Orrick fishes, paddles, hunts, skis and romps across the region while staying on top of outdoors news. Before this dream job, he was on the politics team, covering the Capitol and St. Paul City Hall. The New England native spent most of his adult life in an around Chicago, covering politics, corruption, child welfare and the environment before joining the Pioneer Press in 2006. The 42-year-old lives in St. Paul with his wife and son.

Appropriately, he learned of his DFMie award in a fishing boat on his cellphone.

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