Best of the West: Plains wildfires set grim records, Alaskan eruption, wind's growing power

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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 March 6, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Kansas WildfireWildfire north of Hutchinson, Kan. (Associated Press)UPDATE (March 13): The governors of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico are seeking temporary suspension of grazing restrictions for farmers and ranchers because of wildfires. (Associated Press) Meanwhile, ranchers are assessing the impact on their cattle herds. (High Plains Public Radio)

March 10: Six people have died in this week's plains wildfires: 4 in Texas, 1 each in Oklahoma and Kansas. At least 1,500 cattle were killed in the Panhandle,

  • Kansas officials say total acreage burned has topped 650,000 and is still climbing in the largest single fire in state history. More than 500,000 acres have burned in Clark and Comanche counties alone. (Wichita Eagle).
  • Oklahoma: More than 830,000 acres have been scorched since Monday in the northwest part of the state and none of the fires are contained. (Oklahoman). The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association has established a fund to provide relief for ranchers.
  • Texas: Even as Panhandle wildfires were being extinguished or determined to be under control, state officials were saying the Perryton fire, which scorched 318,056 acres, is the third largest fire in Texas history. In all, more than 478,000 acreas had burned and 5,000 cattle have been displaced. (Amarillo Globe-News)

Storms from Space: The continued improvement of California's drought-ravaged landscape, thanks to the storms battering the Sierras, are on display in NASA satellite photographs comparing 2014 conditions to this year. (Slideshow)

Big Wind: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that installed wind electric generating capacity in the U.S. has surpassed conventional hydroelectric generating capacity, long the nation’s largest source of renewable electricity. Find out how this year's huge West Coast storms may change that. (EIA story)

Alaskan Eruption: Bogoslof Volcano, an Aleutian Islands volcano 850 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted again and sent a cloud of ash 35,000 feet high. Learn more about the volcano's "heightened state of unrest." (Associated Press)

Standoff Trials: Jurors began deliberation this week in the trial of four defendants accused in the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon while legal maneuvering continued. (The Oregonian) Testimony continued this week in the trial of six of rancher Cliven Bundy’s supporters who took part in the 2014 Bunkerville standoff in Nevada. On Wednesday, a media cameraman who tried to mediate the standoff gave hours of testimony. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Flying Squirrel Season: Late winter in the Montana wilderness "heralds the arrival of mating season for the flying squirrel — and one of nature’s most spectacular air shows." Read The Missoulian story, don't miss the amazing photos.

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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