The East Oregonian Publishing Company’s “Fate of Our Forests” series has won a top regional journalism award.

The series, which ran in the group’s newspapers, earned first place in the business and economic reporting category of the annual Society of Professional Journalists’ competition.

The group competes against daily newspapers of 25,000 circulation or below in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

The series was spearheaded by Steve Forrester, publisher and editor of The Daily Astorian, who also wrote many of the stories. It highlighted the changing ownership patterns of private forest land in the Western states and featured work from the newspaper group’s writers, editors, photographers and designers in Oregon and Washington.

Patrick Webb, managing editor of The Daily Astorian, accepted the trophy at the annual awards banquet of the greater Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at the Hotel DeLuxe in Portland Saturday. Webb coordinated the writers on the project, which took a year to research and was published in March and April 2011.

At the same banquet, awards for our daily and weekly papers were also presented.

• East Oregonian’s E.J. Harris won three awards for his photography — first in portrait photography for “Man on a Mission;” third in portrait photography for “Craft Comeback;” and third in sports photography for “Buck Wild.” The contest covers Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.

• HH Editor Neill Woelk won first place for best column,

• HH reporter Jennifer Colton and former reporter Luke Hegdal won second place for the series “Cultural Shift: Hermiston Faces Change” about the growing Hispanic population in Hermiston,

• Chinook Observer’s Damian Mulinix took first place in nondaily news photography for “Rescue of Dale Ostrander” and second place for photo portfolio.

• Daily Astorian reporter Tyler Graf was presented with a first-place trophy for business feature writing for a story about the decay of the community of St. Helens in Columbia County, written for the South County Spotlight in Scappoose.