Best of the West: West leads in personal income growth, wildfire’s enormous cost, new water projects in California

Wildfires, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting January 29, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

State personal income has been growing across the country since the recession began in 2007, and western states are seeing the biggest increases. The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that 9 of the top 10 (and 12 of the top 20) are western states. See the list.

According to the Pew study, “trends in personal income matter to state governments because tax revenue and spending demands may rise or fall along with residents’ incomes.”

Trends from the report:

  • North Dakota experienced the fastest annualized growth (4 percent) in personal income from the recession’s onset in 2007 through the third quarter of 2017
  • The next-fastest growth has been in Texas (2.6 percent), Utah (2.5 percent), Washington (2.4 percent), and Colorado (2.3 percent).
  • Washington stands out as the only state that has consistently ranked among the five fastest-growing states in each of the last four quarters.

Wildfire Costs Add Up: Insurance claims from last year’s California wildfires have reached nearly $12 billion, making the deadly season by far the costliest on state record. In Montana, where the cost of firefighting in 2017 reached $400 million, the state is appealing FEMA’s denial for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to offset costs.

Cut the Salt: Eight new desalination projects have been approved in California, part of an effort to boost the water supply in the wake of the state’s recent historic five-year drought. Six of the projects will focus on brackish water desalinization, which purifies salty water from a river, bay or underground aquifer for human consumption. 

Save Your Spot: Parking and shuttle reservations are now required at Muir Woods National Monument in California (pictured above) due to increased traffic and visitors. Learn how the new system is being implemented for the more than a million people who visit the famous redwood forest each year.

New Digs: Washington-based Amazon debuted Spheres, an “architecturally ambitious focal point and symbol of its status as Seattle’s largest employer and one of the most dynamic entities in corporate America” according to the Seattle Times. Take a virtual tour of the angular glass orbs.

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