All posts by Mitch

From 1998 to 2006, Mitch Tobin covered environmental and other issues for the Napa Valley Register, Tucson Citizen, Arizona Daily Star, and High Country News. He won numerous awards for explanatory, feature, and deadline writing, including two first prizes from the Arizona Associated Press Managing Editors for his stories on water and border issues. Endangered grew out of his yearlong series on Arizona’s endangered species, which was a finalist for the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.

As a reporter, Mitch was certified as a wildland firefighter by the Coronado National Forest, which allowed him to embed with crews battling some of the largest blazes in the Southwest’s recorded history. Tobin’s coverage of the 2002 wildfires, including the 470,000-acre Rodeo-Chediski Fire, was honored in the Best of the West contest. In 2006, Mitch was named one of eight fellows of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, sponsor of the nation’s oldest writing fellowship for journalists.

Before becoming a reporter, Mitch worked for the Urban Institute in Washington; the Arizona League of Conservation Voters in Tucson; the National Parks Conservation Association in Oakland; and the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. He has also taught English in Ecuador and journalism at Pima Community College.

Mitch is a now consultant with California Environmental Associates, a San Francisco-based firm that helps foundations and NGOs with strategic and business planning. Currently, Mitch’s work focuses on evaluating programs and investments for philanthropy and tracking environmental trends through the EcoWest project. At CEA, Mitch was a lead writer of the Design to Win report, which outlined an investment strategy for philanthropists interested in fighting global warming. Design to Win helped inspire the Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight foundations to commit more than $1 billion to create ClimateWorks, a global philanthropic network dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preventing dangerous climate change.

Mitch grew up on Long Island, graduated from Yale College with a bachelor’s in Ethics, Politics and Economics, and earned a master’s in political science from UC Berkeley. He lives in Denver.

Photos from Grand Canyon trip

Just got back from a great trip to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona to learn more about uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. I’m doing an evaluation of the issue for the Packard Foundation. Below are some of the photo highlights. We took an amazing flight with Bruce Gordon of EcoFlight that included the North Rim, Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

I’ll be putting together a video soon that discusses the campaign to prevent new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, the drinking water supply for more than 25 million people.

Watershed deal between enviros and drillers

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has built a national reputation for its aggressive public lands advocacy in Utah’s red rock country. To many energy developers, off-road riders, and county commissioners in its home state, SUWA has become a four-letter word.

So it came as something of a surprise in the summer of 2010 when SUWA announced that it had reached a deal with a major energy firm, the Bill Barrett Corporation, that would allow the company to drill a half-dozen natural gas wells on lands that SUWA had been seeking to protect through its America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

Negotiating from a position of strength, due to its successful litigation and advocacy, SUWA and its allies were able to extract major concessions from BBC, reduce the project’s surface disturbance by two-thirds, and secure additional protections for Nine Mile Canyon, home to an incredible concentration of petroglyphs and pictographs. Striking a bargain with an energy company could also dispel the notion that environmentalists were only about saying no.

In the video below, I explain how traditional adversaries can sometimes reach common ground, even in Carbon County, Utah.