Best of the West: Cash bounty on invasive mussels, California tackles wildfire debris, cloud-seeding could water the West

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Feb. 19, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Bureau of Reclamation

Invasive mussels are marching into new territory, threatening water bodies across the West. Quagga and zebra mussels, which alter the underwater food chain and damage infrastructure, have been detected in Colorado and Montana in recent months.

Until now, federal and state agencies have relied on awareness campaigns and boat inspections to warn recreationalists about the harmful impacts of infestation. Now they’re taking a new approach to prevent their destructive spread: crowdsourcing.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is offering a $100,000 prize for the best suggestion on how to stop the spread of invasive mussels in large bodies of water that is cost-effective and environmentally sound. To be eligible for the six-figure reward, ideas must be submitted by Feb. 28

Pray for Snow? Cloud-seeding, the process of adding particles to clouds to generate precipitation, is growing as a water management strategy across the West. An Idaho experiment produced evidence that the technique works, and Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are considering splitting the cost of the technology for the next decade. 

California Cleanup: Emergency response officials in California are nearing completion of the state’s biggest disaster cleanup since the earthquake of 1906. When it’s complete, nearly two million tons of debris—double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge—will have been removed in the wake of recent wildfires. To better fight wildfires, the Department of Interior is enlisting more drones, according to a report.

Capping Water Use:  California water districts are pushing back on proposed restrictions at the same time water use is soaring, causing concern for resource managers. The restrictions would make permanent some of the conservation practices implemented during the state’s historic five-year drought.  

Quakes Calm in Yellowstone: Seismic activity is a part of daily life in Yellowstone National Park. More than 200 measurable tremors were recorded between Feb. 8-18, but scientists say the level of activity, known as a swarm, is “petering out” and normal for the region

The Middle of Nowhere? Researchers used data to locate the most remote U.S. areas in the lower 48, and it turns out, the top ten are in the West. Despite their isolation, these locations are anything but boring. Learn how the study was conducted, and which western towns made the list.

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