Best of the West: Lessons from the historic Yellowstone fires; entrepreneurs flock to Montana; hemp production supports rural western communities

Wildfires, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Aug. 27, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: National Park Service

It’s been 30 years since devastating wildfires tore through Yellowstone National Park, scorching 793,880 acres, 36% of the park. The Billings Gazette just published a series of articles looking back at the impact the fires had on the region and how it changed our understanding of wildfire management.

Although it would have been hard to imagine at the time, burned sections of the park have made a nearly-complete recovery. Aerial images show that “mosaic” burn areas are now filled with new growth.

Land management and wildfire preparedness has evolved since then and scientists keep building on lessons learned in 1988. New tools have been developed to help firefighters determine the type of fire, and how best to battle the blaze.

For a roundup of nearly two dozen articles and photo slideshows about the fires, visit this page by The Billings Gazette.

The Next Silicon Valley? Entrepreneurs and fast-growing tech companies are flocking to Montana. Listen to an interview with the executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance exploring why companies are choosing to start up or move to the Treasure State.

Cash Crop: Hemp production has rapidly emerged as a viable solution for struggling communities. With bipartisan support, at least 41 states have passed laws making hemp easier to produce. Colorado leads the nation, with more than 25,000 acres licensed for production this year. Learn how the topic has gone from “political kryptonite” to a lifeline for rural communities.

Getting Aggressive on Invasives: Colorado is taking an unconventional approach to combat invasive Japanese beetles: predatory wasps. The intention is for the wasps to search out and eat beetle grubs before they have a chance wreak havoc on local foliage. Read more. 

Grab the Binoculars: Citizen scientists are working to piece together the puzzle of dragonfly migratory patterns in the West. A collaborative group called the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership encourages observers to record their sightings, which have revealed that one kind of dragonfly, previously thought to travel only along the Pacific coast, has also been spotted in Montana.

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