Best of the West: Craft beer is the economic buzz in Wyoming; National Parks increasing access; Oroville Dam repair almost complete

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Oct. 29, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Four Peaks Brewing, Tempe, Arizona

Craft brewing and distilling is invigorating economies across the West. In areas previously dominated by other industries, the development is revitalizing communities and attracting more people to the industry.

In Wyoming, energy production has long been the top economic driver, but the state’s burgeoning craft beer and liquor scene is adding diversification. Pine Bluffs, a small town near the Nebraska border, is home to a malting facility and distillery supplying other Wyoming brewers, and distributing to Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and South Dakota. 

More than 20 microbreweries and two malting companies have popped up in Clark County, Washington in the past decade. No longer in the shadow of nearby Portland, Oregon, the Vancouver neighborhood is establishing an identity all its own.

California, Colorado and Washington were the states with the highest number of breweries in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As the industry grows, women are also taking on larger roles as brewers, managers and lab scientists. Hear from a few of the women behind western breweries such as Stone and Odell’s.  

Oroville Update: Almost two years after the Oroville Dam spillway was damaged, causing hundreds of thousands of evacuations in California, officials say repairs are nearly complete. Crews have also poured concrete to line a portion of a hillside to prevent a repeat of the erosion.

Opt Outside: The National Park Service is increasing diversity efforts to welcome more visitors. Marketing campaigns and outreach programs are focused on improving accessibility for people of color, those with disabilities and low-income families. With dozens of national parks in the West, there are numerous options for visitors to explore.

The West’s Fiery Past: Although record-breaking wildfire seasons have ripped through the West in recent years, a study by the American Geophysical Union argues that “Western blazes today (even if they’re bigger than in the 1980s) are still consuming ‘a small fraction’ of the land fires consumed before European settlers arrived en masse in the West.” Learn more about the research.

Typhoon Update: Super Typhoon Yutu devastated the Northern Mariana Islands last week, and residents are still recovering. This week, Gov. Ralph Torres announced that the general election would be postponed until Nov. 13. Read updates and find out how you can help on our blog.

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