Speaking of must-read pieces of journalism, don’t miss the Sacramento Bee‘s three-part story about pineros.

Pineros ("men of the pines") are the Latinos that do the dirty, exhausting work in America’s forests.

A nine-month Bee investigation based on more than 150 interviews across Mexico, Guatemala and the United States and 5,000 pages of records unearthed through the Freedom of Information Act has found pineros are victims of employer exploitation, government neglect and a contracting system that insulates landowners – including the U.S. government – from responsibility.

The treatment of these workers is bad enough on its own, but is particularly egregious in the context of a government-run guest-worker program, on public land.

The Bee’s package is not just a superior piece of journalism but a fine piece of web design — it’s an attractive site with judicious use of flash, audio, and video. Really a model to aspire to for all you budding environmental journalists out there.

Read it.