Best of the West: West among ‘Best’ states, Montana wildfire’s lingering impacts, apprenticeship programs succeeding

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Feb. 26, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

U.S. News & World Report just released its annual Best States Rankings, and to no one's surprise western states rank highly across several categories. Utah, North Dakota, Washington, Nebraska and Colorado are in the top ten for quality of life, and seven of the top ten states by economic performance are in the West. 

The report’s infrastructure rankings -- which gauge the quality of bridges, public transportation, power grids and broadband -- named North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho in the top ten.  

To find the full list of rankings and a methodology of how the survey was conducted, click here.

Hazy Health Impacts: Following the worst fire season recorded in Montana history, researchers are studying the effects of wildfire smoke on the health of residents. Unprecedented smoke levels spiked  respiratory issues in the state and scientists are trying to determine the long-term health impacts from extended wildfire smoke exposure

Who’s Behind the Wheel? Driverless cars are one step closer to hitting the streets after new regulations were issued in California this week that allow automakers to test autonomous vehicles in the state without a person inside beginning this spring.    

Work-Based Learning Taking Off: Western states are leading the charge in adopting European-style apprenticeship models to close the skills gap. In Washington, a delegation led by Gov. Jay Inslee is implementing findings from a visit to Switzerland. Montana and Colorado are also learning from Swiss and German programs, and have staff dedicated to increasing the number of federally registered apprenticeships in their states.

You Found Your Park: Visits to national parks remained relatively flat in 2017, but total time spent in the parks increased to more than 1.4 billion hours last year. Eight of the top 10 most popular national parks are located in the West, see how many people visited in 2017. 

Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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