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News 2014

Executive Director's Notebook: Gov. Sandoval shares a policy vision for the West

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By Jim Ogsbury

Stanford University (known colloquially as the “Farm”) is one of the world’s great institutions of higher learning. Located in scenic Palo Alto, California, it is also home to the Bill Lane Center for the American West and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

These two centers of academic excellence team up annually to co-sponsor a “State of the West” symposium. This year’s symposium focused on water and energy infrastructure issues and featured a keynote address by the chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Gov. Sandoval’s stirring talk, recorded in the accompanying video, included a broad overview of historical influences on western development and communicated a sweeping and well-grounded policy vision for the American West. Among other things, he discussed energy, wildfires, public lands management and wildlife conservation.  He also described his initiative as Chairman, creation of the Western Governors' Drought Forum.

The speech was as inspirational as it was informative. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the video and see for yourself!

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

WGA conducting fourth Sage-Grouse Inventory across the West

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Centrocercus urophasianus -USA -male-8The Western Governors' Association has released an annual inventory since 2011 of state and local government conservation initiatives for sage-grouse.

Data collection for the 2014 WGA Sage-Grouse Inventory is now under way. The inventory seeks to convey how well voluntary efforts are meeting greater sage-grouse conservation needs. And this year, WGA is expanding the data request to also include federal agencies, industry, nonprofit groups, and tribes, to better document the larger landscape of conservation actions across the public and private sectors.

If your organization would like to contribute to the 2014 WGA sage-grouse inventory, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for a questionnaire. Data is being collected through Jan. 14, 2015.

Read, download the 2013 Sage-Grouse Inventory.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Western Governors’ Drought Forum in Las Vegas highlights water supply management issues, policy

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MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting, and watch a video of the case study presented.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read a story about the role of technology and policy in mitigating drought by Conor Shine of the Las Vegas Sun. Watch two TV reports on the meeting, one by Michael Stevens of 8NewsNow (CBS) and Sandra Gonzalez of News3 (NBC).

The fourth workshop of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum examined the challenges facing water supply management during a period of drought. Following are some highlights from “Drought Impacts and Solutions for Water Supply Management," a two-day workshop (Dec. 8-9) at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) for the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. (Here's the final agenda and list of participants.)

Sandoval and Entsminger TalkGov. Sandoval and John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority, talk before the Drought Forum.

Opening Remarks: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

  • As you look at the Drought Monitor maps, it becomes apparent that this is an extremely regional issue; 17 of the 19 Western states are experiencing some degree of drought.”
  • The Drought Forum is intended to be a living, active document. This information will continue to be accessible on the WGA website rather than being placed in a binder and set on a shelf to be forgotten.”
  • "We have a dream team of drought experts in the West -- and in America -- gathered here to share best practices and help solve this challenge."

Western Governors OK resolutions on methane emissions, wild horse management, public lands grazing, federal disaster recovery assistance

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Western Governors have agreed to new policy resolutions on methane emissions regulation and wild horse management.

The new resolutions, approved by the Governors on Dec. 6, 2014, were announced by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, WGA Chairman, at the 2014 Western Governors’ Winter Meeting in Las Vegas. The resolutions are:

  • whbprogram.-WidePar-000104-Image.WideParimage.2.2Wild Horse and Burro Management:Wild horses and burros are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Increasingly, federal agencies have been unable to adequately manage wild horse and burro populations, both on-range and in holding facilities. Western Governors support thoughtful, appropriate and science-based management decisions for wild horse and burro management. Read, download
  • Methane Emissions Regulation: Many western state economies depend on oil and natural gas production for economic development. Western Governors recognize the environmental and economic benefits to reducing methane emissions and the opportunities for beneficial use of the natural resource. New federal regulations for methane emission reductions should recognize state authority under the Clean Air Act to develop plans tailored to state resources and economies. Read, download
  • Public Lands Grazing: Range livestock operations were established decades ago. These family-based operations are important contributors to the customs, cultures and rural economies of the West. Federal land management agencies’ actions in recent years have resulted in reductions or removal of domestic livestock from federal lands. Western Governors support sound, science-based management decisions for federal lands that should be based upon flexible policies that take into account local ecological conditions and state planning decisions for wildlife and other human needs. Read, download
  • Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance for Communities in the West: Major natural disasters are an ongoing challenge for Western states.  In recent years, Western governors’ petitions for long-term federal recovery aid have been denied, especially for wildfire disasters that are unique to the West. The federal government has an important role to play in responding to disasters and in helping communities and states in long-term recovery. Read, download

To read and download these resolutions, as well as previous resolutions approved by Western Governors, visit the Policies page on the WGA website.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

WATCH VIDEO: Update on Western Governors' Drought Forum, a look at what's coming next

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Drought Forum for Home PageWestern Governors' Association Chairman, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, offered an update on his keystone initiative, the Western Governors' Drought Forum, at the recent 2014 Winter Meeting in Las Vegas.

Four Drought Forum workshops have been held to date. Workshop participants identify ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies and the environment in a specific sector. The workshops, and the sectors impacted by drought that they have examined, so far include: energy in Norman, Okla.; manufacturing and mining in Tempe, Ariz.; agriculture in Sacramento, Calif., and water supply in Las Vegas.

In addition to Gov. Sandoval, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and California Gov. Jerry Brown have participated in the Drought Forums held in their states.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Nevada Gov. Sandoval opens Drought Forum on water supply in Las Vegas

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Sandoval at Drought Forum PodiumGov. Brian Sandoval

MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting, and watch a video of the case study presented.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read a story about the role of technology and policy in mitigating drought by Conor Shine of the Las Vegas Sun. Watch two TV reports on the meeting, one by Michael Stevens of 8NewsNow (CBS) and Sandra Gonzalez of News3 (NBC). Amy Joi O'Donoghue of the Deseret News also wrote about the Drought Forum in a story about water challenges in Utah.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Monday framed the enormous challenges caused by drought in the West, while also exhorting the "dream team" of experts attending the latest meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum to find solutions to the issue.

Gov. Sandoval offered opening remarks at the two-day Drought Forum wokshop "Drought Impacts and Solutions for Water Supply Management," being held Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 8-9) at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas.

The gathering organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) is the fourth held this year as part of the Drought Forum, the Chairman’s Initiative of Gov. Sandoval, who is WGA's Chairman.

Gov. Sandoval reminded the audience that while California has historic drought conditions and 97% of Nevada is experiencing some level of drought, most of the rest of the West also faces drought. As a result, the governor wants the Drought Forum to create a tool that can be used across the region, and continually updated.

"I didn't want to create a report in a binder gathering dust," the governor said of the work being done. "So we have created a living, breathing web archive that can be continually updated." (Visit the Drought Forum website.)

The goverRoger PulwartyRoger Pulwarty, NIDIS Directornor praised the invited attendees at the event, encouraging them to help find solutions. "We have a dream team of drought experts in the West -- and in America -- here to share best practices, help solve this challenge."

The first day of the Nevada meeting also included sessions on current drought conditions in the West and drought’s impact on water supply management. Each Drought Forum workshop highlights a case study. On Monday that was "Collaboration in Addressing Drought in Southern Nevada.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum fosters a regional dialogue where Western states and industry can share best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management. Participants at Drought Forum workshops identify ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies and the environment in a specific sector.

Previous workshops have been held in Norman, Okla., where the focus was drought's impact on energy, Tempe, Ariz. (energy, mining and manufacturing), and Sacramento, Calif. (agriculture).

The Western Governors’ Drought Forum includes an online resource library, a collection of best practices, case studies and news about drought that can be found on the WGA website.

You can find the latest news about drought and its impact on the West on our blog, and you can sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page).

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Western Governors announce resolutions, roll out RAPID toolkit at Winter Meeting

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Sandoval Moniz MeetingGov. Brian Sandoval, Energy Secretary Moniz and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Western Governors rolled out the RAPID toolkit, announced new resolutions, offered an update on the Western Governors' Drought Forum and discussed a variety of Western policy issues at the 2014 Winter Meeting Dec. 6-7 in Las Vegas. Read a story about the first day of the meeting by Laura Myers of the Las Vegas Review Journal and watch a report by Jessica Lovell of 13ActionNews.  

RAPID Toolkit

The Western Governors publically rolled out the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit (RAPID).

The online toolkit integrates information related to potential transmission routes and key permitting and siting requirements of federal and state agencies into one convenient website. Read and download information and watch a video about RAPID.

Resolutions

The Western Governors formally approved two resolutions, including:

  • Wild Horse and Burro Management: Thoughtful, science-based management decisions for wild horse and burro management will attain populations within appropriate management levels.
  • Methane Emissions Regulation: Federal regulation should recognize state efforts already underway and provide states the ability to design methane emissions reduction plans.
  • Public Lands Grazing: Western Governors support science-based management decisions for federal lands based upon flexible policies that consider local ecological conditions and state planning decisions for wildlife and other human needs.
  • Federal Disaster Recovery Assistance for Communities in the West: The federal government has an important role to play in responding to disasters and in helping communities and states in long-term recovery.

Learn more and download each resolution in this blog post

They said it

  • Gov. Brian Sandoval's opening remarks: "The West still represents opportunity, rugged individualism, the vast potentials of enterprise and hard work, in short, the very best of what it is to be an American.  We're only limited by how big we are willing to dream and how hard we are willing to work."
  • Keynote by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz: "We are committed to an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Our job is to make sure the options are there for our communities and states to make the choices they need to make for a clean energy future."
  • Keynote by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell: “We’re in a period of epic collaboration. That’s what is happening for sage-grouse across the 11 states.  We have incredible momentum so we can’t stop now, we need to get across the finish line.”

Plenary Sessions

Seven Western Governors, led by WGA Chairman Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, took part in the day's sessions, including John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Butch Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Gary Herbert (Utah) and Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Infrastructure: Moving Freight & Electricity

  • Governor Mead (in question to Secretary Moniz): "Coal accounts for roughly 40% of electricity generation in this country - when looking at driving down emissions, is the solution to use less coal or to invest and work with states to make improvements?"
  • Secretary Moniz: "Our objective is to provide technologies to permit coal use even in a world of lower carbon emissions."

Managing Lands and Species

  • Gov. Mead to Dan Ashe: “Is the Endangered Species Act working the way it should?”
  • Dan Ashe to Matt Mead: “I certainly think there are improvements that we could make to the Endangered Species Act if we could sit down collaboratively…”
  • Gov. Herbert: “We need to make sure that there is every opportunity for our farmers and ranchers, our agribusiness, to survive, and not only survive but thrive.”

Improving Services and Opportunities for Veterans

  • Gov. Sandoval discussed Nevada's "The Green Zone Inititative," which provides services and support to veterans returning home. Learn more.
  • Gov. Herbert: "You can hate war, and you can hate a specific war, but you ought to love the veteran. We need to be looking for every opportunity for us to say thanks."
  • Gov. Otter: These men and women go and do what they have to do for our country. Now it’s our turn to do what we have to do for them."

 Governors' Policy Roundtable

  • Gov. Herbert: "There’s got to be a renewed appreciation in Washington, D.C. for the rule of the states."
  • Gov. Otter: (Western Governors) look to each other: If Governor Herbert's doing something in Utah that’s really making sense, I'm going to use it."
  • Gov. Mead: Trying to do what's best for our citizens: I’m completely open to alternatives, but I'm not open to doing nothing."

Western Governors' Drought Forum

Gov. Sandoval also provided a brief update on the Western Governors' Drought Forum, his Chairman's Initiative, which is designed to foster a dialoge on best practices to manage drought in the West. Watch this video to learn more and visit here to learn more about the Western Governors Drought Forum.

WGA is reporting on the meeting via social media (Twitter and Facebook). If you want to keep up with the meeting (or make your own posts) on Twitter, follow the hashtag #wga14. During the meeting you can also visit our Meetings page for updates on this meeting as well as past gatherings of the Western Governors.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

WGA launches RAPID Toolkit to speed, streamline siting and permitting of transmission lines

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RAPID One Sheet CoverWestern Governors have rolled out the RAPID Toolkit, an online tool that streamlines the challenge of siting and permitting transmission lines in the West.

The Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) was unveiled on Saturday (Dec. 6) at the Western Governors' Association Winter Meeting in Las Vegas.

The online tool is the culmination of a multi-year effort by Western Governors to tackle the challenge of transmission line siting and permitting. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Chairman of the Western Governors' Association, introduced the tool after Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz delivered a keynote on energy.

RAPID was developed to meet the challenge of growing demand to build new transmission lines in the West. Siting and permitting a new transmission line is difficult and requires review and approval of overlapping and sometimes conflicting state, federal, local and tribal regulations.

The toolkit integrates information related to potential transmission routes and key permitting and siting requirements of federal and state agencies into one convenient website. The tool also facilitates communication between developers and agencies and allows the sharing of best practices among all stakeholders.

The RAPID Toolkit includes a regulatory flowchart library, a resource library, a
National Environmental Policy Act document database and a collection of best practices.

Project development has been managed by the Western Governors’ Association, with funding provided by the Department of Energy and in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Tetra Tech, Inc., and Kearns & West, Inc.

Read more and download an informational document on RAPID.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Drought Update: Western drought forecast, tweaked San Francisco tap flavor, El Paso purification plant

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The Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of that effort is to share the latest news about drought and its impact on the West on our blog, and you can sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page).

WESTERN DROUGHT CRISIS

Drought Forum for Home PageA story in the Billings Gazette cites experts who warn that California's historic drought foreshadows a water crisis for the entire West.

California is suffering the devastating effects of drought agriculturally, economically and politically. There is strong concern that these issues will be mirrored in the future throughout the rest of the West.  

However, collaborative research into drought solutions continues stronger than ever, with many states turning to wastewater recycling and desalinization plans. "I think there is a huge amount of potential to solve the West's water problems," said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West, a joint program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment in California.

Click on the link below for more headlines about drought in the West:

Western Governors' News: Washington tourism boost, Idaho habitat enhancement, New Mexico river restoration, Oregon literacy campaign

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The Western Governors' Association monthly roundup of Western news showcases news about Western Governors from Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and more.

Economic Development

Job Growth: The latest report from the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has good news for job growth in the West. Eight of the top 10 states for growth are western states, with North Dakota and Nevada topping the list.  
Get the complete list at the school's website.

Revamping TourismGov. Jay Inslee allocated strategic reserve account funding to support a marketing campaign aimed at revitalizing the tourism sector

Western Governors’ Drought Forum in California highlights impact of drought on agriculture

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MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting, and watch a video of the case study presented.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read this Associated Press story and listen to additional reports on KQED and Capitol Public Radio.

The third workshop of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum examined the challenges facing agriculture during a period of drought. Following are some highlights of “Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Agricultural Sector,” a two-day meeting (Nov. 13-14) at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The workshop was organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) for the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. (Here's the final agenda and a list of attendees.)

Cal Sandoval SmileGov. SandovalOpening Remarks: California Gov. Jerry Brown, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

Governor Sandoval

  • “Drought is the new normal. We have to plan for variability in water supplies, not just reference historical flows and assume that we will have the same median flows going forward."
  • "These farmers (in Nevada) … they come to me and they feel really helpless. They don't know what to do. And their livelihood is at stake."

Cal Brown Smile TalkGov. BrownGovernor Brown

  • “Our state is incredibly engineered in the way that we have constructed our lives and resources together. Our lives are so highly engineered, and to move forward we need to embrace that fact, not turn away from it, by enhancing the nature of our engineered water resources and utilizing them as effectively as possible.”
  • "The drought will test our imagination and our science, our technology and our political capacity to collaborate."

Roundtable: What is Drought? A Slow-Moving Disaster through the Lenses of Agriculture, Water Management and Environment 

  • Kelly Redmond, Regional Climatologist, Desert Research Institute: “The same sequence of events happening in nature can have very different consequences for Cal Kelly RedmondKelly Redmonddifferent sectors. For example, an irrigated farm may be right next to a dry-land operation geographically, but economically they could be in completely different situations due to drought.”
  • Jason King, State Engineer, State of Nevada: “There are so many components to successfully dealing with drought, but some of the most important include fostering a culture of conservation, keeping policy flexible enough to move water from wet to dry efficiently through transfers, and improving technology to utilize alternate sources of water.”
  • Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Region 9 Administrator: "There is finger-pointing between agricultural and urban interests. The goal should be to make urban and ag understand it is a shared problem."

Western Governors express concerns on definition of 'Waters of the United States' under the Clean Water Act

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Western Governors have submitted comments outlining several substantive concerns on the proposed rule regarding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

EPA LogoThe proposed rule to define “Waters of the U.S.” in the CWA was published in the Federal Register in April 2014 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps).  

Western Governors sent letters to the agencies before and after the release of the proposed rule, stressing the importance of state consultation for the proposal and requesting adequate time for the comment period. As noted in the March 25 letter from the Governors, consultation is crucial because as "co-regulators of water resources, states should be fully consulted and engaged in any process that may affect the management of their waters."

In their recent formal comments, the Western Governors

Eight Western Governors join Energy Secretary Moniz, Interior Secretary Jewell at Winter Meeting in Las Vegas

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Gov SandovalSeven Western Governors will join Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Chairman of the Western Governors' Association, for two days of conversation on the vital issues facing the West at the WGA Winter Meeting Dec. 6-7 at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas.

Governors John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Butch Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah) and Matt Mead (Wyoming) have committed to attend.

WGA meetings routinely include significant federal guests, who

California Gov. Brown, Nevada Gov. Sandoval open Western Governors' Drought Forum on agriculture

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Governor Brown

California Gov. Jerry Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on Thursday kicked off the third meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum, “Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Agricultural Sector.”

Governor SandovalGovernors Brown and Sandoval offered opening remarks at the two-day meeting being held at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The gathering organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) is the third of four to be held this year as part of the Drought Forum, the Chairman’s Initiative of Gov. Sandoval, WGA Chairman.

Gov. Sandoval opened the meeting with remarks that noted California's historic drought and reminded that much of the West also faces drought. In fact, Gov. Sandoval noted that 97% of Nevada is experiencing some level of drought.

Gov. Brown, who has spearheaded his state's response to a historic three-year drought, mentioned that while California is making progress in battling drought's impact, the process will continue "to test our imagination, our science and our political capacity to collaborate." (Read more in this Associated Press story.)

The first day of the California meeting also included sessions on current drought conditions in the West and drought’s impact on the agricultural sector. Each Drought Forum workshop highlights a case study. On Thursday that was a roundtable of California and federal officials discussing “Cross-Agency Collaboration in Addressing Record Drought.”

Droiught Forum Room ShotThe Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. The Drought Forum fosters a regional dialogue in which Western states and industry can share best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management. Participants at Drought Forum workshops identify ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies and the environment in a specific sector.

Previous workshops have been held in Norman, Okla., where the focus was drought impact on energy, and Tempe, Ariz., which focused on the energy, mining and manufacturing sectors. The final meeting of 2014, “Drought Impacts & Solutions for Water Supply,” will be held Dec. 8-9 in Las Vegas.

The Western Governors’ Drought Forum includes an online resource library, a collection of best practices, case studies and news about drought that can be found on the WGA website.

You can find the latest news about drought and its impact on the West on our blog, and you can sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page).

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

WGA announces new Communications Assistant in Denver headquarters

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Amy Schweig Mug ShotThe Western Governors' Association is pleased to announce the hiring of Amy Schweig as Communications Assistant. Amy will support WGA's growing reach in digital media, including social media and blogging.

Born and raised in Tennessee, Amy earned a BA in political science and business administration from the University of Tennessee. She worked on the campaign of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, the first woman to hold that office, and subsequently worked in communications for the City of Knoxville and the Office of the Mayor.

Prior to joining WGA, Amy's work experience included

Western Governors urge House, Senate leadership to fully fund PILT, SRS

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PILTCoverWestern Governors have reached out to House and Senate leadership, requesting full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) programs for Fiscal Year 2015.

Western Governors remind leadership in the Nov. 12 letter, signed by WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vice Chairman and Oregon Gov. John A. Kitzhaber, that the federal government "must fulfill its longstanding obligation to fund these programs for rural counties with tax-exempt federal lands and for timber-dependent counties that rely on this funding."

State and local governments need PILT and SRS to pay for basic but necessary services such as education, infrastructure and public safety. Because authorizations for PILT and SRS are currently expired, if they are not reauthorized state and local governments may soon be unable to provide these important services.

Therefore, Western Governors urge leadership "to work together to find a permanent funding solution for these programs and end the annual authorization and appropriations uncertainty that interferes with planning and budgeting in these small communities."

Read and download the Western Governors' letter.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Watch videos of case studies presented at first two Drought Forum Workshops

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The first two workshops of the Western Governors' Drought Forum are now in the books. The presentation of a case study is a major part of each workshop. In addition to making those case studies available in print form online, we have also created video presentations of each.

VIDEO: Adopting Efficient Water Management Strategies to Promote Economic Development in the Oklahoma Panhandle (Presented at the Western Governors' Drought Forum workshop, Managing Drought in the Energy Sector, in Norman, Okla.)

VIDEO: Gila River Water Shortage: A Productive Partnership between Gila River Indian Community and Salt River Project (Presented at the Western Governors' Drought Forum workshop, Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial Sectors, in Tempe, Ariz.)

The Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of that effort is to share the latest news about drought and its impact on the West on our blog, and you can sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page).

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Nevada celebrates 150 years of statehood, while the Dakotas mark 125th anniversary

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state-flag-nevadaThree Western states mark memorable milestones this weekend: Nevada celebrates 150 years of statehood, while North Dakota and South Dakota mark their 125th anniversary.

October 31 is Nevada Day, the annual celebration of statehood. The 36th state admitted to the union began the process in September of 1863 when Nevada Territory voters approved the concept of statehood. After several procedural ups and downs, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Nevada a state on October 31, 1864.

Read more about Nevada's path to statehood -- and the longest and most expensive telegram ever sent up to that time, which conveyed the state constitution to Washington, D.C. -- Flag of North Dakotain the Online Nevada Encyclopedia.

November 2 marks 125 years of statehood for North Dakota and South Dakota, our 39th and 40th states.

American settlement of the Northern Plains began in earnest when The Dakota Territory was organized in 1861 by Congress, but significant immigration didn't start until construction of the Northern Pacific Railway began in 1872. North Dakota and South Dakota were granted statehood by President Benjamin Harrison on Nov. 2, 1889.

flag of south dakotaSo why two Dakotas? For one, the two population centers in the territory were far from each other in the northeast and southeast corners of the territory. Nationally, there was pressure from the Republican Party to admit two states to add to their political power in the Senate.

Whatever the reasons, we congratulate Gov. Jack Dalrymple of The Peace Garden State and Gov. Dennis Daugaard of The Mount Rushmore State on their 125th anniversary, as well as WGA Chairman and Gov. Brian Sandoval of Battle Born Nevada. 

Here are stories on the celebrations in NevadaNorth Dakota (where they opened a $52 million expansion of the state heritage center) and South Dakota.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Drought Update: NOAA Winter Outlook calls for warm West, L.A. slashes water use, Phoenix planning for a not-so-rainy day

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The Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of that effort is to share the latest news about drought and its impact on the West on our blog, and you can sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page).

SEASONAL OUTLOOK

NOAA Winter Outlook 2014The recent U.S. Winter Outlook issued by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for above-average temperatures in the western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.

The report noted: "While drought may improve in some portions of the U.S. this winter, California's record-setting drought will likely persist or intensify in large parts of the state.

"Complete drought recovery in California this winter is highly unlikely. While we’re predicting at least a 2 in 3 chance that winter precipitation will be near or above normal throughout the state, with such widespread, extreme deficits, recovery will be slow." Read the outlook.

Here are other headlines about drought in the West:

CALIFORNIA

NEVADA: Northern Nevada’s fish affected, but weathered a third summer of drought.

ARIZONA

UTAH: Late summer rains didn't add much to state's water year.

IDAHO: See why this year's Idaho irrigation season was short for some, long for others.

COLORADO: See how state's eight water basins water basins are working on solutions that will culminate in a state water plan.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum also includes regional workshops that gather experts to share best practices, case studies and other information to help states better anticipate and manage drought. Read a complete summary of our Oklahoma meeting on the energy sector and the highlights from our recently completed Arizona workshop on mining, manufacturing and industry. 

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Case Study takes closer look at many uses of Western Governors' Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool

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CHAT Case Study CoverThe Western Governors’ Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) represents an unprecedented effort by 16 western states to create an online mapping tool that depicts crucial wildlife habitats.

"Crucial habitats" provide the natural resources important to aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, including species of concern and hunting and fishing species.

The non-regulatory tool that debuted in December 2013 provides a common starting point for project pre-planning – particularly for regional, multi-state projects. The launch of CHAT followed years of work by Governors and their state wildlife agencies – as well as partners in industry, non-profits and the federal government.

So who is using CHAT? And how are they using CHAT? Six months after the launch of the tool, Western Governors' Association Policy Advisor Katie Kalinowski conducted a survey on how CHAT had been adopted and applied. Some highlights:

  • The primary focus for CHAT use was conservation, followed by energy development;
  • CHAT has been used by people from all 50 states, but the top 5 are Colorado, Oregon, California, Washington, Montana;
  • There were nearly 35,000 page views in the first six monts after its debut.

The Case Study, produced with support from the Hewlett Foundation, offers much more information about how CHAT has been used. In addition, you'll see comments from three entities (EDF Renwable Energy, Noble Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) about how they use CHAT and their suggestions for further improvement of the tool.

Read, download the CHAT Case Study.

 Read, download a previous Case Study supported by the Hewlett Foundation on a collaborative effort by state, federal, local and private entities to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions along a stretch Highway 89 in Southern Utah.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Western Governors’ Drought Forum in Arizona targets solutions both simple and intricate to manage impact on mining, industry, manufacturing

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MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read an Arizona Republic story by reporter Brenna Goth and listen to a report by Andrew Bernier of KJZZ. ALSO: The NOAA Winter Outlook issued Oct. 15 notes there is "at least a 2-in-3 chance that wintertime precipitation will be near or above average throughout (California)." More

The second meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum examined the challenges facing mining, manufacturing and industry during a period of drought. Here are some highlights of “Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial Sector,” a two-day meeting (Oct. 7-8) at the Salt River Project PERA Club in Tempe, Ariz. The gathering organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) for the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval was sponsored by the Salt River Project. (See the agenda.)

Keynote: Sandra Fabritz-Whitney, Director of Water Strategy, Freeport-McMoRan

“One thing that we struggle with in Arizona is people telling us we are going to run out of water … We aren’t. People have worked for decades to ensure that we are not going to run out of water.”
rsz fabritz whitney profileSandra Fabritz-Whitney“Our facilities (Freeport-McMoran) are zero discharge facilities. We want to capture every drop of water that leaves an operation to minimize any potential environmental impact, while also conserving water.”
“If the state is going to continue to grow economically, our water supplies must keep pace. Gov. Brewer has launched a planning effort to close the projected future gap between water supplies readily available and where the state needs to be positioned in order for the state economy to grow.”
“Arizona needs to recognize the importance of local neighbors, water providers, and agricultural providers. Those partnerships are where these problems will be solved. Companies like Freeport may be able to solve short-term problems alone, but wide-reaching planning issues can’t be solved alone.”

 Roundtable: Setting the Stage: Drought Impacts in Arizona and the West 

Kevin Werner profileKevin WernerKevin Werner, Western Regional Climate Services Director, NOAA: “We are not out there to do science for science’s sake; we are doing things to help inform decision makers.”
Nancy J. Selover, Ph.D., Arizona State Climatologist: 
“It is important to remember that in arid and semi-arid environments, it is typical to have extreme variability within wet or dry periods. You will likely have a huge spike in rain even during dry periods and vice versa.”
Charlie Ester III, Salt River Project:
 “People ask me if the drought is over. I usually answer, does it matter? Arizona is such a dry climate that planning for drought needs to become the norm, not just something done during dry years.”
“Salt River Project is, above all else, a drought management agency. Our job is to provide water no matter what. That means adapting to meet projected increases in future demand as well as an expected decrease in supply.

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Roundtable: Drought Impacts and Strategies for the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial sectors

Leisa Brug, Director, Governor’s Office of Energy: “In terms of water treatment efficiency, using less water means treating less water. We are encouraging system Bill Staudemire profileBill Staudenmaierowners to use best practices like leak detection and benchmarking.. This may sound easy but it is often being overlooked.”
William “Bill” Staudenmaier, Partner, Snell & Wilmer: “Effluent water needs to be addressed as a source of power plant water. It is about as close to a drought-proof water supply source that you will get. As population grows, so does your effluent – and, so does your demand for power.”
Travis Brady, President and CEO, Brady Industries: “Even though (our company) reduced a tremendous amount of water use, the cost of the water didn’t directly justify the investment. It was more about the long-term survivability of our business.”
Steve Schnoor, Director Land Water and Energy, Rio Tinto Kennecott: “Water is essential to our operation. It is used in most facets of mining, so it is incumbent upon us to look at how we are using best practices.”

Case Study: Partnership between Gila River Indian Community & Salt River Project

 The Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona had used irrigation to support agriculture for more than 2,000 years. Diversions and a lack of federal policy to protect the water led to agricultural production declines and famine. Years of litigation led to McJunkin Case Study ProfileChrista McJunkinthe Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004.

Jason Hauter, Akin Gump, Gila River Indian Community: “The community is not located on the Colorado River -- its claims are to the Gila River and the Salt River. The political reality is that those rights are not available. So the tribes had to make use of the water available on the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project (CAP). This makes the tribes the single largest customer of CAP water.”
Christa McJunkin, Senior Water Resource Analyst, Salt River Project: “When you have a defined goal, it is easier to come up with a definite fix. When you have multiple stakeholders involved the discussion of a solution is much more involved than with an individual party.”

Read more about the case study or watch a video of the case study.

Drought Forum Case Study Gila River Community Salt River Project

Roundtable: Needs and New Frontiers for Data and Analysis

David Yates, Scientist, Hydrometeorological Applications: “Data integration is very difficult. Bringing observation into models is very difficult. New satellite observations will Room shot profileallow data assimilation to improve.”
Brian Conway, Hydrologist, Arizona Department of Water Resources: “During periods of drought, datasets on groundwater and land subsidence become increasingly important for those making water management decisions. New satellite technology is really helping in this.”
Doug Toy, Water Regulatory Affairs Manager, City of Chandler, Arizona: “We have found that gallons per capita, per day is an inappropriate metric for industrial cities like Chandler. It is more beneficial to look at economic activity per acre-foot. Eventually we would like to take a metric like that and build it into policy making.”

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

DAY 2: Roundtable on Technologies and Innovative Approaches

Robert Lotts, Manager of Water Resources, Arizona Public Service: “We have Business Solutions Teams that are working with industry to develop energy saving Nate Hines profileNate Hinestechnologies. In saving energy, we are also saving water.”
Nate Hines, Principal, Hines, Inc.: “The key to better water management is minor behavioral changes. Roughly 1 million gallons per acre per year is wasted from irrigation, with many sites over-watering by 200%. There is a lot of room for water savings by simply changing this behavior.”
Matt Cook, Water Resources Section Manager, HDR: “The need to be water sustainable for packaged goods is being driven by huge retailers. You need to be able to show sustainability throughout the supply chain. It is a social imperative in the food and beverage sector, because consumers demand it.”
Cheryl Lombard, Government Relations Director, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona: “Many parts of Arizona rely on groundwater and stretching that supply is critical to our future. The time may come for Arizona to talk about expensive infrastructure augmentation, but there is still a lot that can be done now with existing infrastructure to save water and money.”

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Roundtable: Policy Approaches that help/hinder industry adjusting to drought 

Michael Lacey, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources: “When you look Michael Lacey profileMichael Laceyat what it took to get the Salt River Project built, the Central Arizona Project built – it was a sustained, multi-generational effort. We are at that point again where we must recognize that we need additional supplies and work towards that point.”
Vanessa Hickman, Arizona State Land Commissioner, Arizona State Land Department: "The Land Department benefits from having land in basins eligible for transportation of groundwater under state law. How to implement this is a lengthy conversation, but it is worth pursuing to make sure the state’s long-term water needs are met.”
Nicole Patterson, Arizona Director, Protect the Flows: “We are building the business voice for sustainable water, water conservation and healthy, flowing rivers. Sustainability is not just a marketing campaign. Conservation of water matters directly to the bottom line.” 

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Read and download the agenda and a list of attendees. Learn about other Western Governors' Drought Forum meetings here. Don't forget to consult the Western Governors’ Drought Forum online resource library to find a collection of best practices, case studies, resources and news about drought.

The Western Governor’s Drought forum is being conducted in partnership with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System. The Arizona meeting was sponsored by the Salt River Project.

Sign up for drought e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page) and follow the hashtag #wgadrought on Twitter.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. 

Western Governors’ Drought Forum meets in Arizona to discuss impact on mining, manufacturing, industry

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Drought Forum for Home PageThe second workshop of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum just concluded in Tempe, Ariz. Participants at the two-day meeting examined the impact of drought on the manufacturing, mining and industrial sectors.

The Drought Forum opened with a keynote address by Sandra Fabritz-Whitney, Director of Water Strategy at Freeport-McMoRan, who noted that the state of Arizona used as much water last year (7 million acre feet) as it did 1957.

The speech was followed by a session that focused on drought conditions in Arizona and how the state is innovating in response. Nancy Selover, Arizona State Climatologist, and Kevin Werner, Regional Climate Services Director (Western Region) for NOAA, both took part.

Later sessions on the first day addressed drought's impact

Western Governors tell Forest Service proposed directive does not recognize state's sole authority over groundwater

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US Forest Service LogoMedia coverage: Reporter Amy Joi O'Donoghue of the Deseret News wrote about the USFS proposed directive and pushback from Western Governors and other concerned parties (Story). Previously, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Sean Whaley wrote about the governors' response and E&E News reporter Scott Streater also wrote about the governors' comments (Story, subscription required)

Oct. 6: Western Governors have submitted comments to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) about its proposed directive on groundwater resource management that details why this measure could have significant implications for Western states and their groundwater resources.

For a complete description of Western Governors’ concerns

Western Governors support bipartisan bill to improve Forest Service trail maintenance

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Hitting the trail is a Western tradition; outreach by Western Governors aims to keep that trail well maintained.

Forest Service trailU.S. Forest Service photoWestern Governors expressed their support this week for the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (H.R. 4886), bipartisan legislation that would, if enacted, expand National Forest trail maintenance efforts in the West.

In a letter to the bill's co-sponsors, Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Timothy Walz of Minnesota, the governors noted: "Our highest priority regarding our nation’s forests is to improve forest health in order to reduce wildfire threat and improve watersheds and habitat. Congress has provided new tools and programs to facilitate state and private efforts to help the Forest Service improve the health of forests they manage.

"Similarly, your bill would facilitate the use of volunteers and guides to help repair and maintain trails on Forest service lands. In a budget constrained environment, this only makes sense."

The letter was signed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Western Governors' Association (WGA) Chairman, and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, WGA Vice Chairman.

The legislation is timely, the Governors noted, because currently only a quarter of National Forest trails are maintained to Forest Service standards, and the agency currently faces a $314 million backlog in trail maintenance. Given the trails' role in supporting western states’ recreation industry, this maintenance has long-term importance.

Read the letter.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Western Governors concerned federal work with states on sage-grouse conservation an "afterthought," seek "clear, concise input"

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Western Governors are concerned that federal coordination with states in the planning process for greater sage-grouse conservation is being "treated more as an afterthought" by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

Sage GrouseThe letter sent on Sept. 29, 2014 and signed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, co-Chairs of the State-Federal Sage-Grouse Task Force, notes that the need for closer coordination was first identified at the task force meeting on June 12, 2014. However, the letter continued, "it was not until Sept. 19, 2014 that ...BLM proposed dates and times for these discussions."

The Governors' letter was sent to Steve Ellis, Deputy Director/Operations, Bureau of Land Management, and Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief/National Forest System, U.S. Forest Service.

The letter continues: "As Governors, we feel that federal coordination

Western Governors’ Drought Forum meeting showcases importance of innovative water use in energy sector

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MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read stories from the Norman Transcript and The Oklahoman, and watch a story by 7News (KSWO) about the Drought Forum meeting. Also: Read the latest U.S. Seasonal Drought outlook from the National Weather service.

The first meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum examined the challenges facing the energy sector in a period of drought. Here are some highlights of “Managing Drought in the Energy Sector,” a two-day meeting (Sept. 18-19) at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla., organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) for the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Fallin Taking Questions at OK Drought Forum

Welcoming Remarks: Gov. Mary Fallin, Oklahoma 

"In Oklahoma we’ve been experiencing drought since the fall of 2010. Recent rains have reduced the severity and size of the drought, but still 70% of our state is experiencing

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin kicking off first Western Governors’ Drought Forum meeting

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Read a story in the Norman Transcript about the inaugural Drought Forum meeting.

Gov Mary FallinOklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin will kick off the first meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum, “Managing Drought in the Energy Sector,” with a speech on the impact of drought on the state and region.

The two-day meeting (Sept. 18-19) is being held at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla. The event organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) is the first of four to be held this year as part of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum, the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Gov. Fallin's speech will be followed by a report on current drought

Western Governors applaud Senate approval of BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act

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Read our Letter in support of the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project

BLM LogoWestern Governors are encouraged by the Senate's passage of the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014. The act would reauthorize and expand a successful Bureau of Land Management permit streamlining program established by the 2005 Energy Policy Act that is set to expire next year.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), told E&E News that the bill's passage was "a great step forward" for New Mexico BLM's offices and that "I am hopeful the House will act quickly to give the BLM and industry the certainty they need to produce for New Mexico." (Read the story, subscription required.)

The Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project was launched by then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton

Executive Director's Notebook: A Challenge to Congress: Enact Bipartisan State-Federal Land Legislation

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By Jim Ogsbury

Map of Grand Teton National ParkGrand Teton National Park is an extraordinary place. Its mountains are breathtaking, its lakes and rivers pristine. Wildlife is abundant and the majesty of nature reigns supreme. It is one of the crown jewels of the national park system.

When visitors pay their fee at the gate, are greeted by a park ranger and review the maps and literature they receive, there is no question that they have arrived at a national park. They might conclude that the United States has created a special enclave, to be protected forever for the enjoyment of future generations.

And they would be mostly right. There is, however, just one glitch.

The federal government doesn’t own the entire park.

At the time it entered the union, the State of Wyoming was granted school trust lands in what later became Grand Teton National Park. The state continues to own

Western Governors’ Drought Forum launched by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

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Sandoval Drought Forum Website

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval launched the Western Governors’ Drought Forum on Thursday, Sept. 11, with the announcement of the regional initiative’s first four meetings and the rollout of an online resource library to collect case studies and best practices.

Gov. Sandoval created the Drought Forum, his main initiative as Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), to foster a regional dialogue in which states and industry can

A graphic look at California's historic drought

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Time lapseThere are many ways to illustrate the increasing impact of drought in the West.

One of the best recent examples comes from the Los Angeles Times. The paper has collected data from the U.S. Drought Monitor to create a facinating and disturbing time-lapse graphic that shows since 2011 the rapid encroachment of extreme drought in more than 80% of California.

Here's where to find the 10-second snap-shot.

Speaking of California, Doyle Rice of USA Today recently reported on the state's current three-year-drought. Rice writes that it is "only part of a longer-term, 15-year drought across most of the Western USA one that bioclimatologist Park Williams said is notable because 'more area in the West has persistently been in drought during the past 15 years than in any other 15-year period since the 1150s and 1160s — that's more than