Reed Award Past Winners

The Southern Environmental Law Center annually presents the Reed Environmental Writing Award for outstanding writing in memory of Phillip D. Reed, a founding trustee of SELC who helped guide our organization through the early years before his untimely death in 1993. A talented attorney, committed environmental activist, and discriminating editor of the widely read Environmental Law Reporter, Phil was known for his ebullient spirit and inquiring intellect.

By recognizing top writing about the environment, SELC hopes to raise public awareness of the South’s natural treasures and foster a conservation ethic that will protect it.


Corban Addison won in the book category for Wastelands: The True Story of Farm Country on Trial.

CNN investigative reporter, Isabelle Chapman, won the journalism category with her story, “Gambling ‘America’s Amazon'”.


Catherine Coleman Flowers won in the book category for Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret.

Alexis Okeowo, staff writer at The New Yorker, received the Reed Award in the journalism category for “The Heavy Toll of the Black Belt’s Wastewater Crisis.”


Paul Bolster received the Reed Award for Saving the Georgia Coast: A Political History of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act in the book category. 

Tony Bartelme of The Post and Courier in Charleston received the Reed Award in the journalism category for his in-depth reporting on South Carolina’s coastal environment, including communities where the damaging impacts of climate change are happening now.


Margaret Renkl received the award in the Book category for Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss.

Megan Mayhew Bergman received the award in the Journalism category for “Climate Changed,” a series on southern attitudes toward climate change published by The Guardian.


Earl Swift won in the Book category for Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island.

John Archibald and Kyle Whitmire of the Alabama Media Group won in the Journalism category for coverage of a public corruption scandal aimed at shielding companies from the expense of cleaning up pollution in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the North Birmingham area.


J. Drew Lanham won the Book category for The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.

Ken Fine and Erica Hellerstein won the Journalism category for “Hogwashed”, a three-part investigation of industrial hog operations in eastern North Carolina published in North Carolina Triangle area’s Indy Week.


Edward O. Wilson won the Book category for Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.

Ryan Gravel won the Book category for Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities.

Janisse Ray won the Journalism category for “From Ashes Such as These, What Can Rise?”, published in The Bitter Southerner.

In 2017, our judges elected to give two awards in the Book category, due to the excellence of each work.


Deborah Cramer won the Book category for The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab & an Epic Journey.

Ben Raines won the Journalism category for “The BP Oil Spill” and “America’s Amazon,” published by 


Ellen Griffith Spears won the Book category for Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town.

The Staff of E&E Publishing won the Journalism category for “Turning Carolina Red: Reports from the Front of an Energy Culture War”.


R. Scot Duncan won the Book category for Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity.

Duane Gang won the Journalism category for his articles in The Tennessean on coal ash and fracking in Tennessee.


David George Haskell won the Book category for The Forest Unseen
Jay Erskine Leutze won the Book category for Stand Up That Mountain.

In 2013, our judges elected to give both awards to the Book category, due to the excellence of each work. Please see our press release for more details.  


Dave Gessner won the Book category for The Tarball Chronicles: A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of the Gulf Oil Spill
Bruce Henderson won the Journalism category for a three-part series in The Charlotte Observer, “Climate of Change: The Reshaping of North Carolina.”


Charles Maynard, Book award for The Blue Ridge Ancient and Majestic: A Celebration of the World’s Oldest Mountains, (Mountain Trail Press), chronicling the life of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from geologic time up to present-day culture, literature and music, with photographs by Jerry Greer.

Jim Minick, 2nd place Book award for The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family (St. Martin’s Press)

Sam Evans, Journalism award for “Voices from the Desecrated Places: A Journey to End Mountaintop Removal Mining,” (Harvard Environmental Law Review Vol. 34, Number 2), of his personal journey–11 days and 750 miles by bicycle through the Appalachian coalfields–seeking to end the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. 


John Hall, Book award for Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers, (University of Alabama Press), a story through time and space of the state’s rivers, presented in “coffee table book” format with photos by Beth Maynor Young.
Becky Johnson, Journalism award for “Celebrating 75 years of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” a special edition of Smoky Mountain Living.


Rick Van Noy, Book award for A Natural Sense of Wonder, (UGA Press) chronicling his outings with his two children to reconnect them with nature.
Nicole Anderson Ellis, Journalism award for “Land Grab” about the promise, and potential pitfalls of conservation easements in the Virginia Piedmont; published in Style Weekly.


David Kaufman, Book award for Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta’s Watershed, (UGA Press) a full and fascinating picture of one of Atlanta’s urban waterways from its headwaters to its confluence with the Chattahoochee River.
Tim Thornton, Journalism award for “Moving the Mountains,” the first in-depth look at the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Southwest Virginia; published in The Roanoke Times.


The contest was suspended for the year.


Thomas Rain Crowe, Book category for Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods (UGA Press). The book is a vivid account of Rain Crowe’s four years in a rustic log cabin in the North Carolina mountains where he pursues a life of conscious simplicity, spirituality, and environmental responsibility.
Tony Bartelme, Journalism category for his stories in the Post and Courier on the ecological riches and the plight of the Francis Marion National Forest in coastal South Carolina, “Under Fire.”
Jill Rios, Advocacy category for her unpublished short essay, “Back to the Garden: Cultivating Environmental Advocacy in the Christian South,” in which the author explores the relationship between Christianity and environmentalism.


Lawrence Earley, Book category for Looking for Longleaf: The fall and rise of an American Forest (UNC Press) chronicles how the biologically diverse longleaf forests that once covered 92 million acres from Virginia to Texas have dwindled to just 3 million acres scattered across the South – and efforts to save those remaining few forests.
Alex Shoumatoff, Journalism category for “The Tennessee Tree Massacre” (OnEarth) which takes aim at the paper industry’s practice of razing the forests of Cumberland Plateau of eastern Tennessee, and the impact on local communities.
Billy Chism and Dorinda Dallmeyer, co-winners of the Advocacy category for unpublished short essay. In “My Woods Were Gone,” Chism describes his personal grief when the woods he played in as a child are razed for development. In “Waiting for a Train,” Dallmeyer wonders if our modern-day life, dependent in virtually every way on chemicals, is worth the impact to the natural world.
University of Georgia Press – SELC also gave special recognition to the UGA Press for its consistent commitment to publishing works about the southern environment.


Timothy Silver, Book category for Mount Mitchell & the Black Mountains: An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America, (UNC press) which explores the long and rich story of the rugged Black Mountains, drawing on the historical record and his own experience as a backpacker and fly fisherman.
Harrison Metzger, Journalism category for his series of stories, “The French Broad: Past and Currents,” which appeared in the Times-News of Hendersonville, North Carolina and chronicles Metzger’s journey down the 116-mile North Carolina section of the French Broad River from every angle – environmental, historical, cultural and economic.


Chris Bolgiano, Book category for Living in the Appalachian Forest: True Tales of Sustainable Forestry (Stackpole Books), an exploration of the universal issue of how humans use the forest told through the profiles of forest landowners, from a tattooed ex-con horse logger to the Repulican president of the Sierra Club.
John Leland, 2nd place in Book category for Porcher’s Creek: Lives Between the Tides (USC Press), a memoir of growing up in the lowcountry of South Carolina, and a heartfelt farewell to a way of life that is giving way to roads, malls and subdivisions.
Taylor Bright, Journalism category for “Losing our Legacy,” a series of the disappearance of Alabama’s rare and endangered species, and the state’s failure to take adequate precautions, published in the Birmingham Post-Herald.
Sigrid Sanders, Advocacy category for “An Old Field in Summer,” an ode to an abandoned patch of land along a Georgia road, and the life that unexpectedly blooms there.


Earl Swift, Literary Non-Fiction category for Journey on the James: Three Weeks through the Heart of Virginia (UVA Press), a historical, environmental and cultural chronicle of the James River from its headwaters in the mountains to its mouth in Hampton Roads. 
Ben Raines, Journalism category for his investigative series about mercury contamination in seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Published in the Mobile Register.


Donald Edward Davis, Literary Non-Fiction category for Where There are Mountains (UGA Press), an environmental history of the Southern Appalachians.
John Lane, 2nd  place in Literary Non-Fiction for Finding the Real in Real Estate: Saving a Girl Scout Camp from Southern Sprawl. Published in Orion Afield magazine.
Mark Di Vincenzo and Jeff Long, Journalism category for “Tapping into the Future,” a four-day series about the proposed King William reservoir in eastern Viriginia. Published in The Daily Press (Newport News).


Janisse Ray, Literary Non-Fiction category for Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (Milkweed Editions), an intertwined memoir of growing up in rural Georgia and the loss of the region’s long leaf pine forests.
Steve Nash, Journalism category for his book, Blue Ridge 2020: An Owner’s Manual (UNC Press), which examines in-depth and explains in plain language the many complex environmental issues facing the Blue Ridge mountains. 


Bill Finch and Sam Hodges, reporters with The Mobile Register, for their series on the history, the current status, and the future conservation possibilities for the Mobile Tensaw Delta.


Charles Seabrook, veteran environmental reporter with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, for “River in Peril: How developers, Atlanta sewers threaten the Chattahoochee River,” his in-depth series on the impact of Atlanta’s boom economy on the Chattahoochee River ecosystem.


John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein, reporters with The Times-Picayune for “Oceans of Trouble: Are the world’s fisheries doomed?”, documenting the decline of the world’s fisheries, including in the mid-Atlantic. (This series subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997.)


Eric Bates, for “Exporting Southern Forests” in DoubleTake magazine about how the proliferation of chip mills and the exportation of chips to foreign markets are devastating southern forests.


Katherine Bouma and Scott Bronstein tied for first place. Bouma won for her series of articles in The Montgomery Advertiser about the forest products industry in Alabama; Bronstein won for his series of articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how the Chattahoochee River carries Atlanta’s pollution to the Gulf of Mexico.


Jack Horan was the first Reed Writing Award winner, for his 10-part series in the Charlotte Observer entitled “The Vanishing Carolinas,” chronicling the loss of plant and animal life due to accelerating development in the two states.