Best of the West: How small wildfires could protect water; West has many best places to work; dogs sniff out invasive fungus in Hawaii

Water, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Nov. 5, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Glen Canyon Dam

Nearly 40 million people in the West depend on the Colorado River, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. After a dry summer, continued drought and low-flow levels are concerning resource managers.

Lake Powell, the Colorado River reservoir straddling the Utah and Arizona border, experienced its third driest year on record, with unregulated inflows for the 2018 water year at only 44 percent of the 30-year average. Earlier this week, the Bureau released torrents of stored water from the Glen Canyon Dam (pictured) at Lake Powell to mimic natural flooding, rebuild sandbars and benefit fish and archaeological sites.

Dry conditions persist in northern California, western Nevada and southern Oregon, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor summary. Elsewhere in the region, portions of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado have received rain and snow, but the Four Corners region continues to experience exceptional drought, the most severe designation. 

Research from Utah State University suggests that small wildfires can “protect and prolong water resources in the West” by helping prevent larger fires and sediment problems down the road.

Outstanding Employers: The 50 Best Places to Work in 2018 includes 37 employers in western states, according to a roundup by Outside Magazine. See what makes companies, such as Spawn Ideas in Alaska, stand out and how the West’s high quality of life makes jobs feel less like work.

Who’s a Good Dog? To prevent the spread of a deadly tree fungus in Hawaii that has already killed tens of thousands of acres of trees in the state, scientists are testing whether dogs can be trained to sniff out the rapid ohia death pathogen.

No ‘Miner’ Issue: There are hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines in the West, with more than 10,000 alone in Utah that the state is working to seal. For some, the mines are an adventurous way to explore the region’s prospecting past, but for others, they’re a danger.

Wolves Work Wonders? The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park resulted in a surprising ripple effect across the park. Using a hands-off approach allowed the food web to readjust and create greater species diversity. Learn how the wolves have impacted everything from vegetation to elk, “creating a more complex and thriving ecosystem.”

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