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Best of the West: California's $50 billion winter, housing crunch in Colorado, the leading cause of wildfires

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Feb. 27, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Ancient FossilArtist's rendering of Early Triassic marine life represented by fossils discovered in Idaho (Billings Gazette)Record Snow (and Cost): Snowpack in California is nearing a record. However, state officials say that precipitation adds up to a $50 billion price tag for roads, dams and other infrastructure threatened by floods such as the recent one at Oroville Dam.

Hot Housing: Five Western states (Colorado California, Hawaii, Texas, Oregon) are among the top 10 most difficult places for first-time buyers in the housing market. On the other hand, Bankrate.com lists Utah, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska among the 10 easiest for first-time buyers. (Story)

Standoff Trials: The prosecution wrapped up its case on Feb. 27 against the four remaining defendants in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The defense launched its case on Tuesday by calling Ammon Bundy as a witness and then a series of character witnesses. The Nevada trial on the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville included testimony from a BLM ranger, who testified that he turned off his "body cam" as the standoff escalated.

Wildfire Culprit: When it comes to the main cause of wildfires, we need only look in the mirror. A new study shows that humans triggered five out of six wildfires in the U.S. since 1992. (Story)

Ancient Sponge: Fossils found years ago in Idaho have scientists questioning old ideas about how long it took for ocean life to rebound from Eath's largest mass extinction. (Story)

See last week's Best of the West

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury wote about the close relationship between western states and western Canadian provinces in his latest Executive Director's Notebook. Learn more.

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