Best of the West: Eclipse viewing sets records in Wyoming, drought eases in North Dakota

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting August 21, 2017, that you don't want to miss. (Photo: Eclipse viewers at Carhenge in Nebraska by Eric Gregory, Journal Star​​)

The solar eclipse that swept across the West on Monday attracted millions to the Path of Totality in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. The economic impact of all those eclipse-chasers is still being tallied, but indicators suggest that the cosmic event brought in major tourism dollars. 

The Nebraska Tourism Commission estimates the value of newspaper, magazine and television coverage and promotion of the state is over $133 million in publicity.

Wyoming reported a record-breaking traffic jam, with more than half a million cars visiting the state. “It was definitely the biggest one-day event in Wyoming’s history,” said an Office of Tourism spokesperson. State agencies in Oregon and Idaho reported that careful traffic planning paid off, and no major crashes or injuries were reported.

For a roundup on the eclipse, including photos of Western Governors celebrating the event, check out our blog.

Drought Update: Exceptional drought eased this week in North Dakota, although 99.59% of the state is still categorized as at least abnormally dry. Farmers across the country have been contributing hay to ranchers impacted by the drought, but good Samaritans are having difficulty transporting the donations to the High Plains

Business is Booming: Inc. Magazine released its annual ranking of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America, and it’s no surprise that an overwhelming number are in western states. Browse the full list online, which include these businesses:

  • Click Rain, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota online marketing company made the list for the fifth time.
  • In Hawaii, Native Hawaiian Veterans, a veteran-owned small business providing homeland security services, reported $32.5 million in revenue in 2016.   
  • The Burgos Group based in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recognized for its expertise in winning government contracts.
  • Artisan-style pies are big business in Washington, where MOD Pizza has experienced a whopping 1,353% growth over the past three years.

Face to Face: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert have signed on to participate in Face to Face, an initiative connecting governors with inmates, crime victims and corrections staff to better understand the impact of criminal justice policies in their states.

Oregon Update: Wildfires continue in Oregon, although a cooldown this week enabled firefighting crews to make progress on a still-active blaze in the southwest part of the state. On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown announced the mobilization of an additional 125 Oregon National Guard resources to support others working on the fire.

Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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