Best of the West: Idaho nation’s fastest growing state, wildfire’s widespread impact, cybersecurity careers in South Dakota

CATEGORY:
The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting December 18, 2017, that you don't want to miss. Image: U.S. Census Bureau

Idaho is the nation’s fastest growing state by percentage, according to new census data. The Gem State’s population grew by 2.2 percent between July 2016 and July 2017, and has been climbing steadily in recent years, gaining nearly 200,000 residents since 2010. 

Earlier this year, the Idaho Department of Labor projected an enormous 15.3 percent growth over the course of a decade, despite declining birth rates. Find out why the state’s population is expected to swell to 1.9 million residents by 2025.

Closely behind Idaho, Nevada saw 2 percent population growth, Utah grew by 1.9 percent and Washington by 1.7 percent. In fact, of the top 10 fastest growing states by percentage growth, 9 are in the West. For the top 10 states by numeric growth, 5 are in the West, as are the nation’s 2 most populous states overall, California and Texas.

Wildfire’s Impact: The Thomas Fire in southern California is now the second largest fire recorded in state history, and is 60 percent contained. The impacts of wildfire smoke may be even deadlier than previously thought, according to a new Colorado study. And in Montana, where 1.2 million acres burned this year, wildfire smoke resulted in a $240 million loss in visitor spending.

Increased Security: Educational institutions in South Dakota are partnering with the Department of Labor and Regulation to increase cybersecurity career options. The initiative will expand internships and apprenticeships to nontraditional students in response to business needs.

Tourism Cropping Up: A Montana nonprofit organization created a first-of-its-kind tourism guide for farmers and ranchers. Agritourism activities that range from corn mazes to bicycle tours to farm-to-table dinners can serve as an additional revenue source.

High-Flying Record: A record number of bald eagles were counted at Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho this week. During the bird’s annual migration to feed on spawning kokanee, a BLM biologist counted more than 100 eagles beyond the previous record set in 2011. Find out how many eagles were spotted in the area this year.

Western Policy Resolutions: As 2017 draws to a close, learn more about the nine policy resolutions approved by Western Governors at our Annual Meeting in June and Winter Meeting in December.

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