Best of the West: Montana wildfire resources nearly gone, ‘flash drought’ cripples High Plains, Colorado River relief

Wildfires, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting August 14, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Wildfires continue to plague the West. Montana’s firefighting resources are stretched to capacity, with weeks still remaining in peak wildfire season. The state’s firefighting funds could run out within days, forcing officials to draw from emergency reserves.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown called on more than 100 National Guard members to battle a blaze burning near Crater Lake in the southwest part of the state.  Wildfire smoke was so thick in California, that Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome was completely obscured. Watch a timelapse video provided by the Park.

Drought Decimates High Plains: Exceptionally dry conditions in North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Montana set in quickly enough to be dubbed a “flash drought” and have farmers and ranchers struggling to feed livestock and harvest low-yield crops. A large-scale hay donation lottery that started in North Dakota has been extended to neighboring states,  providing much-needed relief. 

Eclipse-o-rama: The much-anticipated total solar eclipse will sweep the West on Monday (August 21). Government officials and businesses in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska are preparing as they would for a natural disaster to manage the influx of visitors traveling to the “path of totality,” For a complete roundup on the eclipse, including how to avoid the traffic and watch from your computer, visit our guide.

Good Water Forecast: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is projecting a zero-percent chance of a water shortage in the Colorado River in 2018 thanks to substantial snow this past winter in the Rockies.  

Next Gold Rush? The only active mine in the country for lithium, the element required for rechargeable batteries in electric cars, laptops, smartphones and more, is located in Nevada. As demand increases for lithium, corporations are looking for other deposits in Utah, which could launch a new prospecting frenzy.

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