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Writer Mark Freeman wins first for story about tusk investigation

The Mail Tribune's Oregon Outdoors section and staff writer Mark Freeman garnered three national awards this week from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the largest outdoor communicators group in North America.

For the second consecutive year, Oregon Outdoors was named the second-best outdoors section in the country. First place went to the St. Petersburg Times of Florida, while third place went to the Raleigh News & Observer.

It was the same winning line-up as last year for the OWAA's top newspaper award.

Freeman won first place in the Conservation and Environment category for a story about Ashland's National Wildlife Forensics Laboratory investigation into ivory tusks found in metal trunks in Asia.

Freeman also won second place in the Natural History category for a story about black bear research projects in southwest Oregon.

The 1,100-member OWAA met this past week in Grand Rapids, Mich. The awards were handed out during a Tuesday banquet.

Freeman also remains a finalist for the organization's newspaper writer of the year, which has yet to be awarded for 2009.