Best of the West: Typhoon devastates Northern Mariana Islands; Rural Colorado revitalization; Idaho startup connects landowners, recreationists

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Oct. 22, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Colorado Tourism Office

Residents of the Northern Mariana Islands may face months without electricity or running water in the wake of the Super Typhoon Yutu, which devastated the U.S. territory on Oct. 24, killing one person. The storm's strength is tied for fifth place all-time when it comes to the highest wind speeds of any storm on record at the time of striking land.

Gov. Ralph Torres announced that the President has approved the Governor's request for an emergency declaration, which authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures. Find local reports from the Saipan Daily and Marianas Variety.

The latest news from the Northern Mariana Islands.

Shifting Economic Gears: Rural Coloradans are adapting to changing economies by moving away from traditional industries to revitalize their communities and provide in-demand jobs and services.

On the state’s Western Slope, Lightworks Fiber employs former coal workers in Delta County to lay fiber optic cable to expand broadband access across the region. So far, the company has retrained 80 former miners, and for the first time in years, the county’s population is remaining stable.     

Grand Junction is shaking off its reputation as a predominantly older community as millennials and outdoor recreation enthusiasts embrace it as an up-and-coming city. Tech companies, startups, outdoor shops and tattoo parlors have popped up in recent years, and affordable home prices are drawing new residents.  

The recent designation of several Opportunity Zones in western Colorado, including portions of Delta County and Grand Junction, could continue to boost economic development and address workforce challenges in the region.

Shared Interests Protect Oregon Forest: Collaboration to prevent devastating wildfires in Oregon was the catalyst for “formerly adversarial” companies and forest management agencies to work together.  Lawsuits and other obstacles had contributed to dense wildfire fuel buildup in Malheur National Forest, but now companies are boosting their bottom lines by helping with firefighting, thinning and forest restoration. 

Vegetation Education: For decades, scientists have been studying an experimental forest in a designated section of Flathead National Forest in Montana. The plot is protected from thinning, prescribed burns and logging activities so researchers can study long-term data and inform future forest management decisions. Learn how this “larch lab” has impacted western forestry.   

The Race to Promontory: In 1869, the final spike was driven to complete the transcontinental railroad, connecting the Eastern and Western U.S. for the first time. Travel back in time with this interactive page by Union Pacific Railroad on "The Great Race" to complete the project, and learn about an exhibit in Omaha, Nebraska featuring unique photographs of the “visual splendor of the West.”  

Access Granted: An Idaho startup seeks to connect hunters, anglers and outdoor recreation users with private landowners, similar to the Airbnb model. The company, EntryG8, provides an opportunity for property owners to earn additional revenue, and outdoor enthusiasts to access private land.


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