Best of the West: Drought update; western states best for early retirement; Nevada aims for Wi-Fi in all parks

Water, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Sept. 3, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Lake Powell

As summer winds down, westerners continue to seek relief from persistent drought across the region. According to U.S. Drought Monitor, the most notable impacts have been felt in Oregon, where “the combination of a poor winter snowpack and a hot and dry summer have produced widespread poor pasture and range conditions and very low stream flows and livestock ponds, and required water hauling, supplemental hay, and delayed forest harvesting, along with reduced livestock herds.”

In Utah, 100 percent of the population is currently affected by abnormal dryness or drought, compared to about one third of the state’s population at this time last year.

Water levels continue to drop at Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which are fed by the Colorado River and straddle borders between Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Despite the conditions, Colorado rafting companies still managed to have a successful season.

To mitigate the effects of drought, biologists and conservationists from Wyoming and South Dakota are looking to Mother Nature. Researchers and volunteers are learning from beavers how to slow river flows with porous, dam-like structures to help water soak into the ground and support vegetation. 

Where to Retire Early: Nine of the 10 best states for an early retirement are in the West, according to a study by Haven Life. The survey that examined well-being, cost of living and health care quality ranked Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota and Utah in the overall top five. Find the full list here.

Red-Hot Office Real Estate: Colorado’s booming tech scene is contributing to a “real estate gold rush.” According to the Denver Post, 22 tech companies opened satellite offices or moved to the Front Range in a 12-month span. The result is high demand for office and commercial space. In Denver alone, more than 472,000 square feet went to tech companies during that period.

Broadband Boom: Prompted by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s ‘Explore Your Nevada’ plan, the Silver State aims to become the first in the country to provide Wi-Fi access at all of its state parks. The project will begin this month, and focus on the most highly-visited parks first.

Farewell to a Leader: The long-time publisher of High Country News, Ed Marston, passed away recently at age 78. Originally from the East Coast, Marston and his family relocated to Paonia, Colorado in the 1970s. His long-running reporting on the issues facing the West earned numerous awards over the years. Read a tribute by his wife to learn more about his legacy.

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