Best of the West: Craft brewing adds billions to economy, fire borrowing continues, Arizona wins parks award

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting September 25, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Fire borrowing, a budgeting practice that redirects forest management funds to fire suppression, continues to be a top concern for legislators following this year’s devastating wildfire season. Western Governors just urged Congressional leadership to end the practice.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has lamented the practice of fire borrowing, and this week, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso addressed the issue in a committee hearing and voiced his support for three bipartisan bills focused on improving forest management and preventing future wildfires.

As legislators grapple with funding challenges, other agencies and stakeholders are collaborating to lessen the impact of future wildfires. A new report by Headwaters Economics shares specific strategies that could be implemented in Montana that are currently being used with success in other western states.

Brewing Up an Economic Force: The craft brewing industry contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016, according to a new report. The Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado found that California alone is responsible for a $7.3 billion output. See how your state stacks up and read about the craft brewing and distilling panel at WGA’s 2017 Annual Meeting.   

Closing the Gap: The changing face of the West is perhaps seen most clearly in the growing divide between urban and rural communities. The Denver Post is taking a closer look at these changes through a series called Colorado Divide, which examines challenges and solutions identified by rural communities.

Outstanding Operations: This week Arizona’s State Parks were named best-managed in the U.S. by the National Recreation and Parks Association. "Winning the Gold Medal is a testament to the hard work, collaboration and innovation that Arizona State Parks and Trails demonstrated to get us to this point," said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Going the Distance: Proterra, a California electric bus company, recently set a distance record with its new Catalyst E2 Max bus. The 40-foot vehicle traveled 1,102.2 miles without recharging, beating the previous record, set by a light-weight bus, by 88 miles.    

New Ice Age Discovery: Montana researchers discovered a previously unknown fault line while conducting a floodplain study, shedding new light on the geologic events that shaped the region.

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