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Best of the West: Index shows startup leaders out West; fatal winter for deer; kayak adventure in Idaho

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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 May 15, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Kauffman Index LogoWestern states lead the nation in entrepreneurship, according to the 2017 Kauffman Startup Activity Index. The Startup Index released on May 18 shows that 9 of the top 10 states, and 4 of the top 5 metropolitan areas, are in the West. Specifically:

  • California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado were in the top 5 for highest startup activity in 2017 among the 25 largest states;
  • Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Nevada had the highest startup activity in 2017 among the 25 smaller states; and
  • The Austin, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas metropolitan areas also ranked in the top 5.

Learn more about how The Kauffman Index of Startup Activity is determined and see the complete lists by reading the full report.

Winter Decimates Deer: The harshest winter in more than 30 years has decimated mule deer populations in western Wyoming. Heavy snow and cold temperatures took their toll on herd numbers, but researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how herds fare and rebound following devastating mortality events.

Rushing Rivers: Flooding in Idaho continues, pulling trees into the Boise River and worrying officials about potential damage to bridges and accumulation of debris. Also in Idaho: kayakers took advantage of high spring runoff to travel 300 miles of the Salmon River in 33 hours. That's a trip that normally would take weeks.

Hail Fallout: Last week’s hailstorm in the Denver area caused enough damage that a suburban mall may remain closed six months for repairs. Lakewood city officials are worried about losing an expected $2 million in sales tax revenue from the closing and thousands of employees are concerned for the future of their jobs. The woes don't stop there: Area residents filing auto and home insurance claims may have to wait months for repairs given the backlog.

New Life: A mill left over from Colorado’s once-booming gold rush will be redeveloped as a tourist destination, despite sitting atop millions of gallons of toxic, heavy-metal tainted wastewater. The designated Superfund site will be home to a 160-room luxury hotel and convention center, steampunk style cabins and affordable housing.

Fossil Find: More than 1,000 fossils collected from a cave in Wyoming will soon be on display at a museum. The animal bones, some dating as far back at 20,000 years, demonstrate the diversity of creatures that once roamed the West.

ATTEND WGA'S ANNUAL MEETING: Influential pollster Frank Luntz and world renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker will be keynote speakers at the 2017 WGA Annual Meeting, hosted by Gov. Steve Bullock June 26-28 in Whitefish, Montana. (See Agenda, Register)

Get even more news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Assoction on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.