Best of the West: Wildfires sweep the West; Wind and solar boost Colorado bottom lines; Top small towns

Wildfires, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting July 2, 2018, that you don't want to miss.

This season, wildfires have scorched more than 2 million acres across the country. Hot and dry conditions in Colorado, California, and Utah have contributed to the blazes, forcing thousands to evacuate.

The Spring Creek Fire in Colorado has surpassed 100,000 acres in size and is now the third-largest wildfire in state history. As flames continue to sweep across the state, university researchers are working to protect watersheds from contamination.

In California, firefighters are making progress on an 86,000 acre fire burning in Yolo County, but a division chief at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has said “We shouldn’t be seeing this type of fire behavior this early in the year.”

20 to 30 homes and structures have been destroyed in the Dollar Ridge Fire in eastern Utah, which also closed a highway and prompted Gov. Gary Herbert to declare a month-long state of emergency for wildfire management. To view a map of all fires across the country in 2018, click here.

Renewables Rising: Whether to generate income, cut bills or reduce their carbon footprint, Coloradans are embracing wind and solar energy. For farmers and ranchers, wind turbines are a new “cash crop”, and an innovative solar panel program could serve as a national model for low-income residents.

Preventing Invasive Species Spread: To combat the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels in the West, The Bureau of Reclamation has allocated more than $4 million for federal, state, and tribal projects. Read a quote from the Western Governors’ Association included in the press release, which features highlights of the funded projects.

All Aboard: In Alaska, the nation’s last “flag stop” train continues to pick up passengers anywhere along a remote stretch of railroad between Fairbanks and Anchorage. To board the train, anyone can approach the tracks at any point and wave a white flag to signal the conductor to stop.

Tiny Towns, Big Fun: Eight of the top ten best small towns in the country to visit are in the West, according to U.S. News and World Report. Telluride, Colorado and Sedona, Arizona were selected, in part, for their abundance of outdoor activities. See if your favorite town made the list.

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