Best of the West: Water conservation sinks in; wildfire updates; Washington scientists make hearing advancements

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting July 9, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

Drought across the West is persisting, especially in the Four Corners region. Portions of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are experiencing exceptional drought, and hot and dry conditions have allowed for rapid drought expansion, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Although populations are growing across the West, with Utah, Texas, Colorado and North Dakota adding residents at more than twice the median rate, conservation efforts are helping to preserve water across the region.  

In Arizona, recycling wastewater and recharging water underground for future use has helped reduce water usage by a third since 1980, even though the state’s population has doubled in that time.

Utah is heeding the call for renewed commitment to conservation by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, and in some places, incentivizing residents to save water.

Awareness campaigns have helped residential usage drop in Colorado, and lessons learned through the designation of the state’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve could serve as a model for communities facing drought in the future.

Wildfire Updates: The Klamathon Fire, which burned from California into Oregon this week, is expected to be under control by this weekend. In Colorado, the largest fire burning in the state is 83% contained, and has scorched more than 107,900 acres. A fire half the size of Rhode Island is currently burning in Nevada.

Music to My Ears: Researchers in Washington are studying the so-called ‘singing fish’ to potentially improve hearing in humans. Unlike us, midshipman fish generate new hearing cells as they lose them, and scientists are studying their genes to determine if the process could be mimicked with humans.

Colorado Tech Helps Thai Rescue Team: Intermap Technologies, a Colorado-based geo-tech firm, assisted with the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand for more than two weeks. The company provided elevation and hydrology data used to create a 3D model of the cave network, allowing rescuers to study the terrain.

Bumper Crop: Good news for craft beer lovers, hop acreage is up in the Pacific Northwest. Idaho, Oregon and Washington are projected this year to grow 55,000 acres of the cone-shaped flower integral to brewing. To learn about the economic impact of craft brewing and distilling in the West, read highlights from the roundtable at WGA’s 2017 Annual Meeting.

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