The opening day of the 2014 Annual Meeting was historic for Western Governors, as they participated in a live video-teleconference with President Barack Obama to discuss the wildfire season and efforts to improve forest management, including an end to the practice of "fire borrowing."
While it was a continuation of the Governors' discussion with the President on wildfires, following a White House meeting in February, it represented the first time the Western Governors have had an in-person conversation with any president during a WGA meeting.
At a press conference that concluded Day One of the meeting at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, all of the governors characterized the conversation as positive and said they supported legislation in the House and Senate that would end the practice of taking money that would be used for fire mitigation to use for fire suppression.
The day began with members of the Western States Tourism Policy Council, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other federal agency heads today signing a memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting federal-state dialogue and cooperation on western states tourism and public lands issues. Governor John Hickenlooper spoke and was joined at the ceremony by governors Matt Mead of Wyoming, Gary Herbert of Utah and Butch Otter of Idaho.
The afternoon session included a keynote by Secretary Jewell, followed by a roundtable on "Preparing for and Responding to Drought and Flooding," moderated by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Guests on the panel included Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Department of Defense, and Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary, Department of Agriculture.
The afternoon session concluded the signing of an MOU by WGA Chairman Hickenlooper and Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, to continue a collaboration on drought, flooding, and wildfire preparedness (Read more and download the MOU.)
The official business of the day concluded with the governors conducting a press conference attended by the Colorado Springs Gazette, Associated Press, E&E News and Washington Post.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, WGA Chairman, and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Vice Chairman, hosted eight fellow governors at the 2014 Annual Meeting, including Arizona's Jan Brewer, Idaho's Butch Otter, Kansas's Sam Brownback, Montana’s Steve Bullock, , North Dakota's Jack Dalrymple, South Dakota's Dennis Daugaard, Utah's Gary Herbert and Wyoming's Matt Mead.
Check out a slideshow of photos featuring Governors, special guests and Annual Meeting events