Best of the West: Western wildfires update; rural Wyoming bets on bikes; revisiting the Oregon trail

Wildfires, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting June 11, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

Soaring temperatures and dry conditions throughout the West have contributed to an outbreak of wildfires in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Arizona. View a map of all wildfires in the U.S. in 2018.

The 416 fire in southwest Colorado has so far consumed more than 27,000 acres and cost $10 million to suppress. Another fire is burning in the Centennial State near Silverthorne, while nearby, one of the world’s largest air tankers remains grounded.   

In Utah, a fast-moving wildfire in Moab destroyed eight homes before it was contained. Another wildfire that began as a prescribed burn on June 5 in central Utah continues to burn.

The Badger Creek Fire in southern Wyoming near the Colorado border has consumed more than 5,000 acres and destroyed multiple structures.

A series of brush fires has swept across Arizona, prompting pre-evacuation notices to residents. “Typically, June is our worst month because it’s our driest month and our warmest month,” said Brady Smith, the public affairs officer for Coconino National Forest. “What needs to be understood is that fire is going to be on this landscape whether it’s by prescribed burning or by wildfire . . . What we hope to do is keep it checked.”

Coordinating an Approach to Mussels Management: Environmental DNA is an emerging technology that could be used in the fight against destructive invasive mussels. A panel of Montana experts has recommended standardizing language and protocols for using the tool to ensure that multiple agencies and states are using consistent data across the West.

Biking Business Boom: Officials in Lander, Wyoming are looking to invest in its growing outdoor recreation economy by proposing the construction of 40 miles of trails outside of the city. Working with the BLM, local outdoor enthusiasts will transform cow paths into biking and hiking single track. “People now specifically travel to Lander for mountain biking,” said Mike Dicken, board member of the Lander Cycling Club. “We see a direct impact on the local economy and we’re very thankful for what BLM has done to improve that.”

Perilous Pilgrimage: More than 150 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people began migrating West on the Oregon Trail, and about 50,000 lost their lives on the journey. Now, a Wyoming college professor and students are using high-tech tools to locate and record unmarked burial sites without disturbing the soil.

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