Best of the West: Hawaii’s snowstorm; Utah converts food waste to renewable energy; Idaho and Montana tap tourism

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Feb. 11, 2019 that you don't want to miss. Image: Associated Press

A historic winter storm brought snow and hurricane-strength winds to Hawaii this week. On the Big Island, gusts reached 191 miles per hour and in Maui, snowfall was recorded at 6,200-feet of elevation, the lowest it’s been recorded in the state.

“For perhaps the first time ever, snow has fallen in a Hawai’i State Park,” said officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. “Polipoli State Park on Maui is blanketed with snow.”

The weather pattern known as a Kona low brought 60-foot waves and prompted the National Weather Service in Honolulu to issue flash flood warnings. More than 27,000 people across the state lost power due to strong winds, one died, and numerous people were injured by downed trees, powerlines and poles.

Cleanup has begun with crews clearing landslides and restoring power, and is expected to take at least several weeks.


Next-Level Recycling: Food waste will be converted into renewable energy in Utah thanks to a new $43 million facility. Wasatch Resource Recovery is a public-private partnership that will produce enough natural gas to power a town of about 40,000 people through a biological process called anaerobic digestion.

Open for Business: Outdoor recreation is an economic boon to the West, and states are ramping up their tourism and marketing efforts to leverage the dollars visitors bring to local communities. The Idaho Fish and Game Department now has a marketing department for the first time in its 120-year history, and Montana mining towns are catering to new types of clientele.  

Back to School: The nation’s first outdoor industry MBA program is off to a strong start in Colorado, with 23 students enrolled. “The outdoor industry too often has to look outside its boundaries to fill executive-level positions. We hope to change that,” said Western Colorado University business school dean Peter Sherman.

Native American Art: A Lakota family is leading an “indigenous art renaissance” in South Dakota. High Country News examined the Two Bulls family show, which features artwork by 21 members and pays homage to traditional techniques and depicts modern representations of their culture.

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