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WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury testifies about 'shortcomings' in BLM Planning 2.0 proposal at Senate hearing

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ogs3Western Governors' Association Executive Director Jim Ogsbury shared the perspective of Western Governors that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Planning 2.0 Initiative proposal has "significant shortcomings" at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Ogsbury's June 21 testimony noted that the proposal, as drafted, also "presents serious challenges," including a lack of state consultation and transparency. 

Ogsbury elaborated: (More)

WGA Annual Meeting Day 3: New Chairman Gov. Bullock announces Forest Initiative, Governors release policy resolutions

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WGA 06 14 2016 9478Newly-elected WGA Chairman, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, announced his policy initiative

MEDIA COVERAGE: The Associated Press covered the change in WGA leadership, including Gov. Bullock's new initiative.

Western Governors elected Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Chairman and approved seven policy resolutions on the final day of the 2016 Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo. (More)

WGA Annual Meeting Day 2: Jewell and Moniz keynotes, Chairman's Initiative resolution, innovation and biosecurity roundtables

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WGA 06 13 2016 8303MEDIA COVERAGE: WyoFile and the Casper Star-Tribune covered Secretary Moniz's keynote, while Bloomberg BNA covered Secretary Jewell's keynote. Also: Read these Jackson Hole News and Guide stories on Gov. Mead's Initiative session and the innovation panel.

Western Governors heard keynotes by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and engaged with industry experts on innovation and biosecurity issues during day two of the 2016 Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The Governors also released (More)

Gov. Mead releases Chairman's report, policy resolution on Species Conservation and ESA Initiative

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IMG 5980AGov. Mead

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read this Jackson Hole News and Guide story on Gov. Mead's Initiative session at the Annual Meeting.

WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead released the report on the first year of the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative and announced a policy resolution that will guide the Governors' continuing work to improve the efficiency of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"If you care, as Western Governors do, about species and conservation, you also have to care (More)

WGA Annual Meeting Day 1: Moving keynote by Dayton Duncan highlights National Parks celebration

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Dayton DuncanDayton DuncanA celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, including a moving speech by historian Dayton Duncan (listen), highlighted the first day of the Western Governors' Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Wyoming.

"The National Park idea says it doesn’t matter if your parents came over on the Mayflower or your parents just arrived," Duncan told attendees. "Each one of you, is the owner of some of the best seafront property this nation has ...You own awesome views of stunning mountains and breathtaking canyons. They belong to you. And all that is required in return is that you put it in your will for your children so that they can have it too."

Opening day of the meeting in Jackson Hole also featured (More)

Western Governors celebrate National Parks at Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole

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Denver Gov Mead Making Point with MediaGov. Matt Mead The Western Governors' Association 2016 Annual Meeting is ready to kick off in Wyoming with a celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, featuring a keynote by historian Dayton Duncan.

WGA will offer live updates on Twitter using the hashtag #wga16 and will also publish daily reports.

WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is hosting the three-day meeting at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which also will include the governor's report on the first year of his Chairman's Initiative, (More)

Best of the West: Wildfires blaze in Arizona, Oregon; Northwest prepares for 'The Big One;' Nevada tests drone taxis

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting June 6, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

akawana fireOregon wildfireJune Blazes: Wildfire season has arrived in the West. A 700-acre wildfire in Arizona has forced 250 residents to evacuate the town of Yarnell, which in 2013 was the scene of one of the deadliest wildfires in history when 19 Hotshots were killed. In Oregon, a blaze spanning 2,100 acres is threatening 1,200 homes and expected to continue to grow.

Drone Taxi: A Chinese company will test its passenger-carrying drone system in Nevada.

Cascadia Rising: Governors Kate Brown (Oregon), Jay Inslee (Washington), and Butch Otter (Idaho) joined about 20,000 people in a region-wide disaster exercise to help prepare for "The Big One," an overdue 9.0 magnitude earthquake and its resulting tsunami.

Ski Record: Strong marketing by Vail Resorts and early snow helped Utah ski resorts draw their largest crowd ever. Learn how many millions of skiiers visited this season.

Smoking Limit: California has followed Hawaii's lead to become the second state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

See last week's Best of the West.

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

Western Governors support policies aimed at developing enhanced oil recovery technology

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Western Governors have reiterated their support, in a recent letter to Congressional leadership, for policy that would deploy responsible use of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using carbon dioxide.

The Governors' outreach on June 3, 2016 encouraged efforts to develop federal policy, such as the Carbon Capture Act, aimed at spurring deployment of EOR technology.

The letter to Rep. Mike Conaway and Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Shelley Moore Capito emphasized that EOR technology has proven to be "safe and effective," adding: "Western Governors stand behind federal policies that enable development of new commercial carbon capture and pipeline projects in a cost effective manner."

The Governors also cited their policy resolution, Enhanced Oil Recovery: "In recognition of the environmental and economic benefits of EOR, Western Governors support policies and incentives that advance investment in EOR projects, infrastructure, technology, and research."

Read, download the full letter

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

Best of the West: Thunderbirds jet crash at Air Force graduation, Alberta homecoming, parks equal money in Montana

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Here are western stories for the week starting May 30, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

thunderbird crash colorado 2016 002Flyover Fright: It's a tradition for a Thunderbirds fighter jet to do a flyover at the Air Force Academy graduation. It's decidedly out of character for one of the jets to crash. But that's what happened Thursday just south of Colorado Springs. No one was injured, but here's what happened.

Home, Sweet, Home: This week saw the return of the first wave of evacuees to Fort McMurray and surrounding communities in the wake of the massive wildfires in Alberta. See how it went.

Parks Polling Well: A new poll reveals (More)

Western Governors concerned by BLM's ongoing lack of state consultation in Planning 2.0 Initiative

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US DOI BLM logoWestern Governors remain concerned over the lack of "early, meaningful and substantial state involvement" in the development of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Planning 2.0 Initiative.

The Governors' latest outreach on May 25, 2016, commented on the BLM's proposed rule, Resource Management Planning. The agency's stated goal of the Proposal was to clarify existing language, address landscape-scale issues, and more effectively involve the public and other governmental entities. The Governors countered that "this attempt at clarity has failed," and instead creates more confusion and reduces transparency.

In their comments, the Governors question whether (More)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's book: 'The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics'

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Opposite Of Woe Hickenlooper book coverColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, like many Western Governors, is a great storyteller. So perhaps it's no surprise that he assembled the many stories of his life into the memoir "The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics."

The book from Penguin Press, which goes on sale May 24, traces the Governor's early years in Philadelphia, a winding educational road through Wesleyan University, his first job as a geologist in Denver, and how the layoff from that position ultimately led him to politics. (Read a review in the Denver Post.)

Before the ballot box, though, Gov. Hickenlooper helped launch the Wynkoop Brewery, Denver's first brewpub, by the skin of his teeth and then drove it toward the enormous success it now enjoys. After his role in a variety of civic ventures, (More)

Best of the West: Lake Mead at record low, California drops water rules, Alberta wildfire still spreading, self-driving big-rigs

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boatdocksLake Mead boat docks I Las Vegas Review-JournalLake Mead has hit a new record low and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation forecasters expect its surface to drop another two feet through the end of June. This news has Arizona, California and Nevada officials considering the possibility of transferring Colorado River water to the reservoir. 

In other drought news, California has lifted its unprecedented mandatory water restrictions and will now allow individual water districts to set their own conservation targets. This move marks a major shift in the state's water policy.

Here are more western stories for the week starting May 16, 2016, that you don't want to miss: (More)

Western Governors celebrating National Parks' Centennial, exploring biosecurity challenges and economic development at Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole

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Grand TetonA celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, as well as insightful conversations on biosecurity challenges and innovative economic development, will highlight the Western Governors' Association 2016 Annual Meeting hosted by Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead June 12-14 in spectacular Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The robust agenda developed for the three-day meeting at the Snow King Resort also features a roundtable on Western innovations and a special report on the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, the Chairman's Initiative of Gov. Mead.

Ten Western Governors already have indicated they will attend. In addition to Gov. Mead, WGA's Chairman, others include: (More)

Western Governors again seek partnership with BLM, Forest Service in Section 368 energy corridor designation process

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transmissionsunsetWestern Governors have reiterated their desire to work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on the energy corridor designation process for Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The Governors' latest outreach, sent on May 17, 2016, to BLM Director Neil Kornze and USFS Chief Thomas Tidwell, inquired about the status of the Section 368 energy corridors and requested a "substantive partnership" in the designation process and incorporation of energy corridors into land use plans. (More)

Species Spotlight: Collaborative conservation puts Columbian white-tailed deer on road to recovery

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bigcwtdThe Columbian white-tailed deer began to decline in the Pacific Northwestern United States in the early 1900s due to unrestricted hunting and land conversion. Once numbering in the tens of thousands, less than 1,000 of the deer existed by 1975 when they were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This installment of Species Spotlight examines the conservation actions of state, local and private partners to help recover the Douglas County and the Columbia River distinct population segments (DPS) of the Columbian white-tailed deer to the point of delisting and proposed delisting under the ESA.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

Columbian white-tailed deer are threatened by both habitat modification and over-predation. After the species was listed under the ESA in 1975, wildlife managers and local partners began to reduce predation by (More)

Governors encourage development of western drought relief legislation

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senateenrlogoWestern Governors have reiterated the need for a "comprehensive, west-wide response to drought and water security" to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The letter to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell emphasized, "Nineteen western states are experiencing water shortages because of extended drought. The challenge is clearly diverse in implication and region-wide in scope."

The Governors asked that the letter be included in the record for the May 17 Water and Power Subcommittee Hearing on Pending Legislation, which will include testimony on the "California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act" (S. 2533). Watch a recording of the hearing here.

The outreach to the committee also included a previous letter with recommended solutions and shared the WGA policy resolution, Water Resource Management in the West.

Read, download the letter.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter and Facebook. 

WATCH VIDEO: State wildlife agencies' immense impact on species conservation

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State wildlife agencies have an unparalleled positive impact on wildlife conservation, starting with an annual aggregate budget of $5.6 billion. State wildlife agencies employ nearly 50,000 employees and enlist 190,000 volunteers each year to manage 990,000 square miles of wildlife habitat. These numbers underline the tremendous impact of state-led conservation by agencies that improve habitat, manage wildlife and restore endangered species for future generations to enjoy. (More)

Best of the West: Alberta wildfire "out of control," EPA issues methane limits, Fish and Wildlife Service drops Lesser Prairie Chicken appeal

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting May 9, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

d6ff1871 76eb 40d3 9ec1 2b0e41f4717cAlberta Ablaze: The Fort McMurray wildfire has been classified as "out of control" by the Alberta government, whose latest update cites the burn at more than 884 square miles. Find out why it will take months to extinguish and how it has managed to send Canadian natural gas prices to a record low.

Methane Regulations: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just issued new Clean Air Act regulations that directly limit emissions of methane. Although Western Governors are reviewing the new rule, they previously weighed in on this critical issue via the policy resolution, Methane Emissions Regulation, which emphasizes (More)

Executive Director's Notebook: Energy, governor engagement high heading into Annual Meeting

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By Jim Ogsbury

Governor Mead and Hickenlooper Denver WorkshopWyoming Governor Matt Mead and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper at the Denver workshop of the Chairman's InitiativeThe past several months have been frenetic but productive for the Western Governors’ Association. Consider the following:

The Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative of WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is in full throttle. Initiative-sponsored discussions are engaging a broad range of stakeholders, from conservationists and environmentalists to industry and agriculture representatives, from state and federal officials to lawyers and biologists. Because these conversations are led by Western Governors, they are remarkably civil and constructive. The Chairman's Initiative has conducted four workshops across the West (Cody, Wyo.; Boise, Idaho; Denver, Colo., and Honolulu, Hawaii) and a series of webinars. It is designed to inform future gubernatorial policy on species conservation and the ESA.

The policy arm of WGA has been working in overdrive to communicate (More)

Drought Update: California Gov. Brown cements some water conservation rules, eases others

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California Gov Jerry BrownGov. BrownGov. Jerry Brown has issued an executive order making certain water conservation restrictions permanent in California, including monthly water use reporting, new community water use standards, and bans on "clearly wasteful practices."

The order, which the Los Angeles Times reported "enshrines a conservation ethic in state regulations," also gave communities more flexibility and autonomy by dropping the strict schedule of state-imposed water cuts and allowing water agencies to set their own short-term conservation targets as California enters the fifth year of its historic drought.

"Californians stepped up during this drought and saved more water than ever before," said Gov. Brown in a statement. "But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence, and water conservation must be a part of our everyday life." (More)

Best of the West: Alberta fire rages, excellent Colorado snowpack, Oregon standoff defendants seek venue change

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting May 2, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

Alberta Wildfire Smoke PlumePhoto: Canadian Red CrossAlberta Blaze Raging: The Fort McMurray wildfire, whipped by winds in excess of 40 mph, have burned more than 328 square miles and continued to rage on Thursday. (Latest updates from CBCNews) And here's how the fire started.

Snowpack's Strong: Good news for western water users can be found in Colorado’s snowpack, which is 113% of median as of Tuesday. More

New Venue? Lawyers for the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are suggesting a change of venue. More

Zika's Western Impact: New maps from the Centers for Disease Control show the potential range of mosquitoes likely to spread Zika virus. More

Big Gulp: The nation's largest firefighting plane can carry up to 19,600 gallons of water (or fire retardant) for 4,000 miles. More

See last week's Best of the West.

Register now for our Annual Meeting, June 12-14 in Jackson, Wyoming.

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

Lawyers for the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon are suggesting a change of venue. More

Species Spotlight: Work since El Segundo Blue Butterfly listing has led to population revival

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Species Spotlight ButterflyThe El Segundo Blue Butterfly relies on seacliff buckwheat for survivalThe El Segundo Blue Butterfly is endemic to the coastal dunes of Los Angeles County in California. The sandy dunes and surrounding ecosystem are essential to the butterfly’s survival.

Extensive development in this habitat put the El Segundo Blue Butterfly population in danger of extinction. In 1976, the butterfly was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, prompting the preservation of the last remaining dunes of its habitat.

Since then, through protection and restoration of the butterfly’s habitat, the population is growing. The tiny butterflies have even traveled to newly restored dunes, a feat that scientists never expected that will make the population more resilient as it continues to rebound.

Species Spotlight, a case study series examining the challenges and opportunities in species conservation, is part of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, the Chairman's Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

The major threat to El Segundo Blue Butterfly survival is (More)

Judging begins for Western Governors' 'Celebrate the West' high school art competition

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Art Contest Entries 2016More than 200 entries from 19 states arrived by the entry deadline for the Western Governors’ Association Celebrate the West regional art competition.

WGA's inaugural visual arts challenge, sponsored by the Western Governors’ Foundation, challenges high school students to create works inspired by their state. The entries we've received from the 19 states that make up the WGA footprint have lived up to that challenge, with works that reference the history, landmarks, people, communities and culture of the West.

While a majority of the entries were submitted digitally -- as our rules requested -- some Celebrate the West Art Competition Logoentrants couldn't resist sending their finished work. That includes a school in Truth or Consequences, N.M., some of whose wonderful, colorful works are shown with this blog post.

So now it's on to the judging phase. Winning artists (we'll contact you) receive cash prizes and their works will be displayed at our upcoming 2016 Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo. We'll also display the winning art -- and ultimately all the art -- on our website.

Get the latest news of the West and the Western Governors' Association by following the WGA on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Best of the West: Arizona, California, Nevada talk Lake Mead cuts; Bundy defense strategy revealed; wind energy dies down

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting April 25, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

lakemeadcollabSource: Arizona RepublicWater Cut Collaboration: Arizona, Nevada and California officials are discussing cuts to current use of Lake Mead to avoid draining it to the point where federal officials would take over water allocation.

Mahalo, But Enough! Thousands of job applications have flooded into Hawaii following news of their teacher shortage and bonus for mainland incomers. See a few off-the-wall responses they've received so far.

Bundy Defense Plan: Ammon Bundy and other Oregon standoff defendants have revealed elements of their defense strategy as a date is set for their Nevada trial.

Shifting Wind: Find out the real reason that 2015 saw the weakest U.S. wind production increases since 1999.

Your Town: You could buy a whole town in Nevada for a mere $8 million.

See last week's Best of the West.

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

West leads nation in job growth; Amazon adding more than 1,000 jobs in Kansas, Colorado

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jobgrowthmapWestern states were home to the highest job growth rates over the past year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The steepest rise was in Idaho, where employment grew 3.6% since March 2015. Oregon, Utah and Washington claimed the next highest spots in the job growth rankings, and California showed the largest statistically significant job increase with 420,800 new jobs. See how much your state's economy grew.

States across the West are making economic progress on a variety of fronts. Here are some highlights: (More)

Western Governors urge BLM to defer to states on methane emissions reduction

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US DOI BLM logoWestern Governors have urged the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to further acknowledge existing state regulatory frameworks for methane emissions reduction.

The letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze regarding the agency's proposed rule (Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation) states: "More work is needed in consultation with Governors and state regulators to ensure the Proposal defers to existing state regulatory frameworks, and does not encroach on air regulatory authority reserved to the states."

The issue highlights Western Governors' ongoing concern about (More)

Best of the West: Bundy brothers denied release, floods imperil Texas dams, eclipse tourism in Wyoming, drastic drought relief

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting April 18, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

Texas Gov Gregory Wayne AbbottTexas Gov. AbbottTexas under water: Attention has turned to 'extremely high risk' dams in Houston after deadly flooding that prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to declare a state of emergency in nine counties.

Oregon standoff: A judge has ruled that the Bundy brothers will not be allowed release ahead of their Nevada trial -- find out why.

Drastic drought relief: The latest weekly Drought Monitor report shows huge improvements in California and Nevada's most dry areas. Nevada's exceptional drought was completely eradicated for the first time since July 2013, and the percent of California (More)

Executive Director's Notebook: Hawaii Gov. David Ige embodies the meaning of 'aloha'

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Governor Ige Hawaii Initiative WorkshopGov. David IgeBy Jim Ogsbury

Aloha.

For the longest time, I thought “aloha” simply meant hello and goodbye in the Hawaiian language. But it also means affection, peace, compassion, mercy – and much more. The “aloha spirit” describes a way of life.

Personifying the aloha spirit is Hawaii Governor David Ige, who has, in his relatively short time in office, become an active and valued member of WGA’s Board of Directors. Soon after the Governor was elected in 2014, he took action to re-engage Hawaii in the activities and affairs of WGA. Rather than remitting dues for the year, he paid for two years. Instead of simply participating in WGA’s policy-making activities, he assumed a leadership role and successfully promoted a WGA resolution on preclearance of foreign visitors. And, while he could have watched the proceedings of the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative from afar, he brought the initiative to Honolulu, where he recently hosted a workshop focusing on (More)

WATCH: Powerful endangered species speech in Hawaii offers insights for all the West

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We've just concluded the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative workshop series, which included engaging discussions and insightful speeches by Western Governors and species conservation leaders.

Sam ‘Ohu Gon III delivered a stirring, insightful presentation at the final workshop in Hawaii that we thought was particularly worth highlighting. The speech (More)

Western Governors' News: Google driverless car testing in Arizona, Kansas overhauls juvenile justice, Oregon hits employment record

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The Western Governors' Association offers a monthly roundup of news showcasing the work of Western Governors in economic development, natural resources, education, health and safety, and other areas. Here is what the Western Governors have been working on lately:

gov. brown paidGov. BrownALASKA Gov. Bill Walker established the Alaska Mariculture Task Force to develop a comprehensive plan for shellfish and sea plants farming.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey announced the launch of Google driverless car testing in Arizona, the fourth western state to host the test process.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to expand the state's paid family leave program.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper launched a program to provide specialized resources that can help rural economies become more robust.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige honored 'environmental heroes' for their conservation efforts to combat invasive species.

IDAHO Gov. Butch Otter signed (More)