Best of the West: National Parks crowd solutions; Washington and South Dakota apprenticeships on the rise; Utah and Oregon data centers go green

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting July 23, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Featured image: Zion National Park

Summer entices millions of visitors to national parks in western states each year. With record numbers crowding the trails, a bipartisan bill to address maintenance backlog issues is gaining support. The bill introduced by Representatives Rob Bishop and Raul Grijalva would help repair roads, paths, bridges, restrooms and other structures.

On the flip side, overcrowding at popular parks has inspired more visits off the beaten path. To get away from crowds at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, more people are visiting the lesser-known Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

"It is getting hard to get reservations in the well-known places, like Rocky Mountain or Mesa Verde [national parks]," supervisory ranger Brant Porter said. "So a lot of folks … came and found places like Black Canyon."

If your summer road trip plans do include visits to iconic national parks such as Zion (pictured above), Yellowstone or Glacier, read tips from The Los Angeles Times for visiting the West’s eight busiest parks.

Reimagining the Western Workforce: To prepare for jobs of the future, western states are implementing workforce development policies and skills training programs. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard have prioritized skills-based education and are receiving acclaim for their efforts to bolster apprenticeships.  The first-year report of the Western Governors' Workforce Development Initiative highlights additional ways to create enhanced career opportunities for students, graduates and displaced workers. Read the report.

Facebook’s Solar Solution: Construction on solar projects in Oregon and Utah will offset the energy use of several Facebook data centers in the states. "With projects like these, we continue to demonstrate that Oregon is ready for the clean energy economy of the future,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.  

States Collaborate on Outdoor Rec: Representatives from eight states, including Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, signed the Confluence Accords, which outline shared principles for the outdoor recreation industry. "This collaborative work will serve as a national model and strengthen the collective voice of this industry," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Westerners Lend a Hand: A dozen of the top 20 states for volunteerism are in the West, according to survey data sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Utah took the top spot, while South Dakota and Idaho also made the top five. View the full list here.

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