Best of the West: Drones help western water managers, Montana’s outdoor rec impact, California wildfire update

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Aug. 6, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Land managers in the West can now forecast drought and flood without touching a drop of water. The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) in Colorado is using drones to quickly and safely take measurements over broad, sometimes unmapped, rivers and streams. 

Collecting data on water temperatures, particulate amounts and flow levels, the USGS shares the information with agencies that include the National Weather Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Learn more in this article by H2O Radio, and watch a session on applications for technology in cross-boundary planning from WGA’s inaugural Western Working Lands Forum. Click here to view USGS slides about putting drones to work for scientific research.  

Western Economies Rising: Real gross domestic product increased in the first quarter of 2018 in a number of western states according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Washington led the country with 3.6 percent growth, followed closely by Colorado and Utah. 

California Wildfire Update: Some 14,000 firefighters, including inmates and participants from overseas, are battling blazes in California, where the Mendocino Complex Fire is the largest recorded in state history. To combat the wildfires, state agencies are considering night-flying. "It's a new step for us," said Scott McLean, Cal Fire deputy chief.

Montana’s Big Outdoor Impact: Outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 71,000 jobs in Montana. Rachel VandeVoort, Director of the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, added that “Those jobs generate $2.2 billion in wages and a lot of money, $286 million every year, in state and local tax revenue,” she said.

Get to know the Governor: Governing Magazine interviewed WGA Vice Chair and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum for its public leadership podcast, In the Arena. Listen to the interview in which Gov. Burgum discusses his first 18 months in office, efforts to establish a Theodore Roosevelt presidential library and more.  


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