Best of the West: Snowpack declines over decades, A/V innovations, Montana’s draw on high tech

Water, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting March 5, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

Although a recent storm brought moisture to thirsty California, dry conditions persist in the state and across the region. In Colorado, drought levels are at their highest since 2013 , forcing a ski resort to close due to the lack of snow.

A new study found that snowpack levels have declined across the West over the past six decades and could cause future water shortages. California, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Arizona saw declines of more than 70 percent, according to the report published in NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science.

In Idaho and Montana, water managers are hopeful that above-average snowpack levels this season will be adequate for irrigation supplies and help farmers and ranchers plan for the upcoming growing season.

Driving Progress: Western states continue making advancements in autonomous vehicle technology. Uber is using self-driving trucks to transport deliveries over long distances to truckers in Arizona, and in California, the company has begun a robot taxi service for its employees.

Low Population, High Tech: Montana’s outdoor recreation opportunities are a major draw for recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce, according to a survey of more than 180 technology and manufacturing companies. “The growth trajectory of Montana’s high-tech industry has far exceeded our expectations,” said Christina Quick Henderson with the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.

If a Tree Falls…Dead standing trees make up about one in 15 trees in Colorado forested acres, and that’s a problem. The cost of removing the trees can outweigh their value, posing wildfire risks for land managers if left untended. Learn why so many Colorado trees are dying, and how forest experts are approaching the challenge.  

Coral Care: Researchers in Hawaii created the first comprehensive map documenting deteriorating coral reefs. Using 10 years of datasets, the study examined how human behaviors such as development and fishing impact local reefs and will influence strategies to protect them in the future.

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