Diane Dumanoski
Environmental Reporter, Boston Globe
Boston, Massachusetts

Diane Dumanoski, the recipient of a special award for leadership in public policy, has been an environmental reporter for the Boston Globe since 1979. During the intense debate last year over the Bush Administration’s 1991 proposal to revise the wetlands delineation manual, Dumanoski’s articles in the Boston Globe were instrumental in raising public awareness both about the proposed changes and about the tens of millions of acres of wetlands that would no longer be protected by federal law were the manual finalized. Dumanoski’s articles on the wetlands delineation manual exemplify excellence in environmental reporting. Rather than simply accept the Bush Administration’s characterizations of the proposed manual at face value, she ferreted out the true impacts this proposal would have on wetlands. Dumanoski sought out and interviewed many of the most renowned wetlands scientists in the country. She reported that, contrary to popular belief, scientific research demonstrates that wetlands encompass more than standing water, lily pads and ducks, and can include “drier wetlands” that provide critical functions, particularly water purification. Dumanoski revealed that, under the proposed manual, at least half of the nation’s wetlands—50 million acres or more—would lose federal protection. She noted that protection would be eliminated for “drier wetlands” and for some of the nation’s most famous wetlands, such as parts of Florida’s Everglades and parts of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp.

Dumanoski also researched and reported the staggering costs of the proposed manual. She noted, for example, that opening up these wetlands for development would cost the public up to $75 billion for advanced sewage treatment plants to offset the loss of wetlands’ filtration functions. Dumanoski’s objective, well-researched, and accessible articles helped make the public aware of the wide discrepancy between the Bush Administration’s “no net loss” of wetlands promise and the drastic contraction of areas deemed to be wetlands under the proposed wetlands delineation manual. The resulting public outrage was so strong that the proposed manual became the most commented-upon proposed rule in EPA history. Dumanoski also deserves recognition for the wide array of articles she has written on national, state, and local environmental issues in the past 20 years. In the past two years alone, she has written at least nine articles for the Boston Globe on the manual debate, the Hayes bill (proposed amendments to the Clean Water Act), and other national wetlands issues. In addition, Dumanoski has extensively covered developments in wetlands protection in Massachusetts, ranging from articles on potential state regulatory developments to thoughtful articles examining the adequacy of wetlands protection efforts in the state. Her series on the extent and causes of cumulative loss of wetlands in Massachusetts serves as another fine example of Dumanoski’s ability to fully research a subject and provide the public with information that is not available elsewhere.

Although Dumanoski has covered the full range of environmental issues from acid rain to nuclear safety — she has always avidly followed wetlands issues and has a deep, abiding interest in wetlands. She sets a standard for environmental reporters that is hard to match.

— Terry Schley, Counsel, Fisheries & Wildlife Division, National Wildlife Federation