Best of the West: How to help California wildfire victims; Wyoming’s wildlife resource; recording wilderness in Alaska  

Wildfires, 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.

The impacts of the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire, are still being determined as firefighters battle the blaze that began one week ago. As of Thursday, Nov. 15, the death toll has climbed to 56 people, while searches continue for survivors. Additionally, the Woolsey and Sierra Fires in Southern California have claimed three lives and hundreds of structures. 

Wildfires have scorched about 1,822,000 acres in California this year according to the National Interagency Fire Center, but recent American Geophysical Union research shows that fires once burned up to 36 times more of the West. To determine the cause of the fire, investigators are using clues such as soil conditions, where an object was blackened by heat, the angle of char on trees, interviews and video from residents.

For a list of ways to help wildfire victims, click here. Local organizations such as the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund and United Way of Northern California support locals affected by wildfire by providing shelter, funds to rebuild, mental health services and more. 

Hot Off the Press: A new publication on Wyoming ungulate migration serves as a “first-of-its-kind resource for wildlife advocates and managers.” The 208-page book, Wildlife Migrations, contains stories, maps, graph and charts by scientists, authors, map-makers and photographers. Learn how the publication could inform future policy decisions.

Moving to the Country: For the first time in seven years, rural populations are rising in scenic areas within about an hour’s drive of a major city, such as the Rocky Mountains, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency’s annual report, Rural America at a Glance, found that places with access to urban amenities or outdoor recreation saw the most growth.

Call of the Wild: National Park Service researchers are setting up recording devices in remote locations in Alaska to answer the question: What does wilderness sound like? Listen to clips captured over two months and see photos of the journey to the audio recording sites.  

Look Closer: It turns out, Colorado isn’t as square as some might have you believe. Although most maps show four straight-lined borders defining the Centennial State, it actually has 697 sides. Learn how the uneven boundaries were drawn, and why early mapmakers aren’t entirely to blame.

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