Best of the West: Western states lead US in GDP growth, California bikers reopen historic trail, a wildlife photographer looks back

The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting May 7, 2018, that you don't want to miss. 

Western states led the country in gross domestic product growth between 2016 and 2017 according to a study by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Washington, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Utah had the top five fastest growing GDP rates, ranging from 4.4 percent to 3.1 percent growth, compared to 2.1 percent nationally. Wyoming was one of two states with the largest increases on a per-capita basis due to energy sector rebounds last year.

In Washington state telecommunications, construction, aerospace and business services boosted the state’s economy.  Energy and real estate development propelled Colorado, while Nevada, Arizona and Utah were greatly supported by tourism, health care, construction and tech. Read more about strong GPD gains across the region.

Water Woes: Melting snowpack in Montana has residents bracing for flooding—possibly the highest in decades in the western part of the state. To the south, the forecast is much more modest for the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. The river is expected to deliver only 43 percent of its average amount to Lake Powell.

‘Checkerboard’ Contributes to Fire Impacts: A study examining the impact of wildfire in areas with ‘checkerboard’ land ownership shows that fires burn less severely in public forests than commercially-owned timberland. A paper published in the journal Ecological Applications found that the homogenization of trees as wildfire fuel on privately owned timber forests in Oregon contributed to more severe burns. 

Sweat Equity: A California trail closed for nearly a decade will reopen thanks to volunteer efforts by local mountain bikers. After a 2009 wildfire and rainy season, a 26-mile stretch of the historic Gabrielino Trail was nearly impassable. Following a yearlong volunteer-run campaign, the trail is expected to be fully open by the end of this summer.

Walk on the Wild Side: Renowned photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen is known for his wildlife images, especially of the American West. A 60 Minutes segment filmed in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming explores his decades-long career, and features some of his best-known shots.   

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