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Gov. Ige emphasizes critical balance of species, people at Hawaii ESA workshop

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Governor Ige at ESA WorkshopHawaii Gov. David Ige opened the workshopHawaii Gov. David Ige kicked off the final workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative on Oahu by emphasizing the importance of preserving his state's staggering array of species while also supporting the people who live on the islands.

"It will take a great effort," Gov. Ige said at the the two-day (April 7-8) workshop in Honolulu, "to balance the needs of the species here with the needs of Hawaii's human inhabitants."

The Honolulu workshop (More)

Best of the West: Bears on the loose, world record bridge opens, Oklahoma wildfires, Oregon refuge arrest

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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 4, 2016, that you don't want to miss: 

520 Bridge OpeningCrowds thronged the opening of the 520 Bridge in Washington stateOut of their dens: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report that all but one of the radio-collared grizzly bears they track had emerged from their dens. Find out if that's early.

A bridge most far: The new State Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington is the world's longest floating bridge (says Guinness World Records, no less). See what it delivers.

Still burning: Wildfires continue to plague Oklahoma. Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for 10 additional counties due to ongoing blazes. Learn where.

It's official: Almost 6 months after the Aug. 5 Gold King Mine spill, the Environmental Protection Agency has formally proposed a Superfund listing in Bonita Peak Mining District in San Juan County. Learn more.

Latest refuge arrest: A Montana man wanted in the Oregon refuge standoff was arrested in Washington state. See where he was found and what charges he faces.

See last week's Best of the West.

Dayton Duncan, who co-produced "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" with Ken Burns, will speak at WGA's Annual Meeting this june in Jackson Hole. Find out how to attend.

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

WGA urges DOE to engage states in electric transmission process

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DOE logoThe Western Governors' Association has sent comments to the U.S. Department of Energy that express concerns regarding its proposed rule, "Coordination of Federal Authorizations for Electric Transmission Facilities."

The outreach highlights WGA's position regarding the nature and scope of consultation of federal agencies with states and requests a detailed state consultation timeline and plan for obtaining individual state comments. 

The comments assert (More)

Best of the West: Oklahoma wildfire emergency, Colorado supersonic plane, Utah tourism campaign

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting March 28, 2016, that you don't want to miss: 

Oklahoma Gov Mary FallinGov. FallinWildfires ablaze: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for the county where a massive wildfire started and burned 400,000 acres. The same fire spread to Kansas, where it has become the largest wildfire in state history and caused Gov. Sam Brownback to declare an emergency last week. See the devastating ripple effect the fire will have on the community.

Prioritizing mine clean-up: Colorado has begun work with federal agencies to complete an inventory of abandoned mines threatening waterways.

Selfie danger: A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows selfies are mostly to blame for (More)

Executive Director's Notebook: The joy of traveling in the great American West

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Gov Daugaard at CS Press Conference for BlogGov. Daugaard took part in a press conference at our Annual Meeting in ColoradoBy Jim Ogsbury

The Capitol Beltway in Washington, D.C., has been described as “54 miles of asphalt, surrounded by reality.” Having spent the majority of my career in the national capital area, I can attest to the region’s air of self-importance and its overall distance from the real world.

One of the best aspects of my job with the Western Governors’ Association is the opportunity it provides to travel to the real world of the great American West. A recent trip was a case in point, as I led a small posse of WGA staff to Pierre, South Dakota, to meet with Governor Dennis Daugaard and to promote the Association’s policy priorities and ethos of bipartisanship with local media.

Pierre is the second smallest capital city in the United States and certainly among the friendliest. The state capitol building, erected from a design similar to that of the Montana capitol, is uncommonly beautiful. Situated on river bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, along the Lewis and Clark trail, Pierre is a Great Plains destination that is high on recreation and low on urban stress. (More)

Find agenda, livestream details for Hawaii workshop of WGA Species Conservation and ESA Initiative hosted by Gov. Ige

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ESA Website Main Page

Hawaii Gov. David Ige addressed "Island Energy Development and the ESA: Unique Solutions for Rare Species" to kick off the final workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative April 7-8 in Oahu, Hawaii.

Other topics discussed included protecting marine areas; state and local consultation and coordination; climate change and the ESA; (More)

Western Governors concerned about duplicative EPA mining regulations that could hamper effective state programs

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EPA LogoWestern Governors are concerned about the potential introduction by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of financial assurance requirements on the hard rock mining industry.

Specifically, the Governors' letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asserts the requirements would create "duplicative federal regulations" that inappropriately hamper effective state programs and fail to recognize states’ primacy role in water management.

"Many western states rely on the hard rock mining industry for economic development and employment," write the Governors. "Western states are committed to (More)

Species Spotlight: Delisting the American Peregrine Falcon through captive breeding and collaborative conservation

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bigfalconThe American Peregrine Falcon was once abundant throughout the United States, but widespread use of the pesticide DDT caused the bird’s population to decline rapidly. This led to a 1970 listing of “endangered” under the Endangered Species Conservation Act.

This installment of Species Spotlight examines the collaborative conservation actions and regulatory changes that led to the banning of DDT and the captive breeding of thousands of falcons. These efforts helped grow the Peregrine Falcon population to the point that the species was delisted in 1999.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

The pesticide DDT thins the shells of Peregrine eggs, disrupting breeding cycles and decreasing bird populations. In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency banned the pesticide DDT for most uses in the U.S. This action was a critical first step (More)

Best of the West: Kansas wildfire emergency, Denver blizzard, California reservoir release

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting March 21, 2016, that you don't want to miss: 

Kansas Grass Fire WoodKansas wildfireWildfire mayhem: Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of emergency as crews battle wildfires that have burned more than 400 square miles in Kansas and 220 in Oklahoma. Update 3/28: The continuing wildfire has blazed through more than 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma, costing more than $1 million so far.

Colorado snow dump: The Denver metro area (and points north and south) was just blasted with a blizzard that closed Denver International Airport and cut off power for more than 300,000 residents. Was it the city's biggest ever? Read this list of historic snowstorms to find out.

Oregon standoff aftermath: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe says the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge will cost his agency roughly (More)

WGA submits testimony to Appropriations on Western policy issues such as ESA, 'fire-borrowing,' PILT funding

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James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, recently submitted written testimony on Western policy issues to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

ID 10 08 07 0320Testimony included "fire borrowing"

The testimony, submitted on behalf of the WGA, focused on issues impacted by the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of the topics included:

  • States as full and equal partners in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act;
  • Continued use of state fish and wildlife data is an integral element of natural resource decisions;
  • Enactment and full funding of a permanent and stable mechanism for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, as these appropriations represent (More)

Western Governors concerned about shortened public process in Forest Service directives, seek role for states as partners

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forestservice

Western Governors have expressed concern to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) about a potential "abbreviated or streamlined process" for involving the public in the formulation of service directives.

Additionally, the Governors noted that any participation process suggested by USFS should "respect states as sovereignties and full partners, not simply as stakeholders or members of the public" as the service's process currently does.

The outreach, in response to the "Request for Information Regarding Involving the Public in the Formulation of Forest Service Directives," also asserted that "any process that reduces the Forest Service’s responsibility to actively inform the public of its actions represents a retreat from openness and transparency."

Read and download the 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: Women's History Month, drought-friendly beer, driverless tractors

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting March 14, 2016, that you don't want to miss: 

Transportation innovation: Four of the seven finalists for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge are located in the West. The winner will be awarded $40 million to help it become the country's first city to fully integrate innovative technologies into its transportation network.

Recycled brews: A California brewery is making drought-friendly craft beer from recycled waste water.

duceyvidGov. Ducey honors Women's History MonthWomen's History Month: Gov. Doug Ducey released a video celebrating some of the many women who have helped shape Arizona's history.

Automated agriculture: An Idaho company is planning to launch driverless tractors within the next two months.

Insect discovery: Scientists have discovered a new butterfly in Alaska for the first time in 28 years, and it may also be the state's only endemic butterfly.

Energy plan: Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has announced an updated statewide energy strategy.

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.

Drought Update: California water concerns continue despite filling reservoirs

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shastaLake ShastaFollowing a weekend of heavy El Niño storms, California's two largest reservoirs have risen above historically average levels. The critical boost marks the first time in three years that the state's largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, has met this milestone.

While the shift in weather has been positive for California, water officials urge cautious optimism. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that while the California is closer to recovery, state officials say the historic drought certainly is not over and much of its resulting damage and deficits remain.

State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus has advised (More)

Documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan to speak about National Park Service Centennial at Annual Meeting

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Dayton Duncan for 2016 Annual MeetingDayton DuncanWe're excited to announce that award-winning author and documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan will speak about the National Park Service's founding at the Western Governors' Association 2016 Annual Meeting (June 12-14) in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Duncan, who wrote and produced The National Parks: America's Best Idea with legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, will deliver a multimedia keynote on June 12 as part of an opening-day session marking the centennial of the National Park Service.

Ten Western Governors will be on hand for the meeting hosted by WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead. Others include: WGA Vice Chair Steve Bullock of Montana, and Governors Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres (Northern Mariana Islands), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota) and Gary R. Herbert (Utah).

The National Parks is only one of many significant projects for Duncan and Burns, who also collaborated on the 12-hour series The West. Duncan's other credits include Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, a four-hour documentary that earned the second-highest ratings in the history of PBS, following The Civil War .

Previous documentaries by Duncan explored (More)

Best of the West: NM OKs ridesharing, Oregon shooting investigation

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting March 7, 2016, that you don't want to miss: 

New Mexico Gov Susana MartinezGov. MartinezRidesharing expansion: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a bill allowing ride-booking companies Uber and Lyft to operate in the state.

Malheur Investigation: The fatal shooting of an Oregon occupier has been deemed justified "and, in fact, necessary," but an FBI team still faces an investigation for misconduct. Also: there are new charges against the militants, including theft of government property.

Safer wind energy: Colorado's National Renewable Energy Lab is working on self-stopping wind turbines to save birds.

Wildfire innovation: Trying to predict the next wildfire? There's an app for that.

Rocky Mountain High rent: Colorado ski areas just sent a record $23 million in rent to the federal landlord.

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.

Governors Hickenlooper, Mead launch Denver workshop on ESA Initiative

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Governor HickenlooperGov. HickenlooperColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead kicked off the latest workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative in Denver by challenging participants to continue collaborative conservation work while looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. Hickenlooper, who hosted the two-day (March 9-10) workshop, said it was important for Western states to harvest their natural resources while protecting the native habitat.

Gov. Mead reminded attendees of the ESA's 1.4% success rate for species recovery, noting that often it was legal challenges alone that keep species listed. "Lawyers are winnning on the ESA. The question is: Are the species winning?"

The Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative is (More)

Best of the West: FWS proposes delisting Yellowstone grizzly, avalanche deaths spike

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GrizThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed to delist the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. 

Thursday's (March 3) proposed rule from FWS comes as the result of extensive state conservation efforts to recover the bear. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead called the proposed ruling to remove the bears from the endangered species list a "great success story," while Montana Gov. Steve Bullock described the proposal  as "welcome news."

As the Western Governors’ resolution Endangered Species Act notes: (More)

Find agenda, livestream details for Denver workshop of WGA Species Conservation and ESA Initiative hosted by Governors Hickenlooper, Mead

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ESA Website Main Page

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hosted and spoke at the third workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative March 9-10 in Denver.

Gov. Hickenlooper was joined at the workshop by WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who also spoke as part of his Chairman's Initiative. Topics discussed at the workshop included (More)

Species Spotlight: Recovering the Oregon chub through conservation partnerships

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chubOregon chub populations were in steep decline due to habitat loss and nonnative species predation in 1993 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Oregon native minnow under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

This installment of Species Spotlight takes a closer look at partnership-driven conservation efforts since then by private landowners and conservation groups, as well as state, tribal and federal entities. That work helped grow populations and, in 2015, resulted in the Oregon chub becoming the first fish to be delisted under the ESA.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS (More)

Best of the West: Nevada Gov. Sandoval withdraws from Supreme Court consideration, Oregon standoff plea entered

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Feb. 22, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

Nevada Gov Brian SandovalNevada Gov. SandovalSCOTUS declined: Amid nomination rumors, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has announced he is bowing out of consideration for the open Supreme Court seat.

Oregon standoff saga continues: Ammon Bundy and other militant occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have plead not guilty. Meanwhile, the FBI has completed processing crime scenes and returned control of the federal sanctuary to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is estimated that the 41-day occupation has cost taxpayers $3.3 million, a number expected to grow.

Fiery waterfall: Check out stunning images of Yosemite's rare "firefall," and learn the hurdles photographers have gone through to capture it.

Cosmic Crisp: Learn what's special about the new trademarked and focus group-tested apple that will be available for planting only to Washington farmers for at least a decade.

Water flows: California officials have boosted the amount of water they expect to deliver this year from the state's mountain-fed reservoirs to the highest allocation in three years.

See last week's news.

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

Oregon 'picture of economic health;' 6 western states named Innovation Champions

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bloombergOregon has been called "the picture of economic health" in an analysis of Bloomberg's Economic Evaluation of States report on the first three quarters of 2015. 

Oregon's economic health index rose the most in the nation; Washington, Utah and Colorado were also listed in the top 10 states with the most improved economic vitality.

Also in the report: California, Utah and Oregon showed the highest percent increase in personal income, while Colorado, Nevada and Oregon had the highest percent increase in home prices. Read more

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

Governors Hickenlooper, Mead to host March 9-10 workshop in Denver of Species Conservation and ESA Initiative

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Colorado Gov John HickenlooperGov . HickenlooperColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hosted and spoke at the third workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative March 9-10 in Denver.

Gov. Hickenlooper was joined at the workshop by WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who also spoke as part of his Chairman's Initiative.

Topics discussed included state leadership in species conservation efforts; legal analysis of the Endangered Species Act, and species conservation funding. (Watch all the sessions)

Species Conservation & ESA Initiative Webinar: The Role of Conflict and Litigation in the ESA

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main logo esa head

The Western Governors’ Association hosted a Feb. 25 webinar as part of its series for the Species Conservation and ESA Initiative.

The Role of Conflict and Litigation in the ESA examined how litigation shapes the implementation of the Endangered Species Act and affects species conservation efforts. Panelists representing a diverse range of interests will participate in a moderated discussion, as well as a question and answer session. Watch the webinar.

WEBINAR DETAILS (More)

Best of the West: Oregon occupier seeks billions in damages, Colorado rockslide

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Feb. 15, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

Oregon standoff saga continues: The militant occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is over, but the news doesn't. The Oregonian is keeping up with the latest from the ongoing drama, including: One occupier is seeking $666 billion in damages from "the works of the devil"; Cliven Bundy and four others face a federal charges in Nevada; firearms, explosives and feces are among the items left behind at the refuge.

rockslideColorado rockslide

Toxic blooms: New algae research could explain all those strange happenings in Alaska's waters.

Rocky road: A massive rockslide on a major Colorado highway left three vehicles severely damaged and part of the interstate closed for repair.

Legislature approved: A bill aimed at welcoming and regulating ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft in New Mexico is headed to Gov. Susana Martinez's desk for consideration.

Potential skiing milestone: Utah ski resorts report that this year is on target to hit record skier numbers.

See last week's news.

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

Western Governors' News: Arizona regulation freeze, Colorado innovation challenge, Oregon's small business boost

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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:

Alaska Gov Bill WalkerAK Gov. WalkerALASKA Gov. Bill Walker released a report on the economic impacts of the Alaska Marine Highway System that found the state-run ferry system doubles every dollar invested.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey renewed his moratorium on all new regulatory rulemaking by state agencies.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown proposed an initiative to reduce wasteful spending at state prisons and reduce prison population sizes.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper launched Imagine Colorado, the nation’s first-ever statewide open innovation challenge.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation to (More)

Western Governors urge EPA to recognize state authority on water quality issues

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EPA LogoWestern Governors have sent comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to its request for Information on Existing Programs That Protect Water Quality From Forest Road Discharges.

The outreach, sent on Feb. 12, 2016, highlighted states' federally-recognized authority to manage and allocate water within their boundaries. Submitted comments included: "The Clean Water Act (CWA) does not require EPA to regulate forest road stormwater discharge," and "EPA should leave the management of stormwater discharges from forest roads to the states, unless otherwise determined by a specific state."

Western Governors also cited (More)

Best of the West: Oregon standoff ends, Colorado's billion dollar marijuana sales

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West and its governors. Here are western stories for the week starting Feb. 8, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

oregonoccoverSource: OregonianOregon Occupation Over: The 41-day standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon ended today (Feb. 11) with the peaceful surrender of four holdouts after an hourlong negotiation with the last protester. Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has also been arrested and will appear in federal court in Portland on charges from 2014. See the Oregonian's play-by-play account of the final day's developments and learn how you can help restore the Malheur refuge.

Pot Profits: Colorado marijuana sales reached nearly $1 billion in 2015, allowing the state to collect more than $135 million in related taxes and fees.

Housing Blueprints: Los Angeles has approved plans to fight homelessness with $1.85 billion over the next decade. Boise unveiled a "housing first" plan, modeled after a Salt Lake City program, aimed at permanently housing the city's homeless.

Ancient agriculture: The oldest ever footprints found in the Southwest, discovered in Arizona, provide new insights into how Native people practiced a complex system of irrigation agriculture 2,500 years ago. 

See last week's news.

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

Drought Update: California extends water conservation rules despite deep snowpack

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snowsurveyCA2California snow surveyRecent heavy rain and snowfall in California have some residents pushing back against the state's mandatory water conservation rules. State water officials, however, caution against an overly optimistic view of California's drought outlook and the State Water Resources Control Board recently voted to keep in place the conservation rules established last year.

"We are just at halftime in this rainy season," said Felicia Marcus, the State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman. "A lot could change."

Current benchmark reports concerning the California drought are encouraging. Statewide snowpack is the deepest it has been in five years, and the most recent monthly manual survey near Lake Tahoe measured the snowpack at 130% of normal. Conversely, new reports show that California's water conservation habits are starting to slip as heavy El Niño rains present a communications challenge in convincing residents to continue conserving. Learn more

The Western Governors' Drought Forum was the (More)

Gov. Ige to host Hawaii workshop of Species Conservation and ESA Initiative April 7-8

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Hawaii Gov David IgeGov. IgeHawaii Gov. David Ige hosted and spoke at the final workshop of the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative on April 7-8 in Oahu, Hawaii.

Topics discussed at the workshop included: protecting marine areas; state and local consultation and coordination; climate change and the Endangered Species Act; invasive species impacts on species conservation efforts; and listing and delisting considerations. (Find videos of all sessions.)

The workshop, continued the regional conversation about the signature initiative of WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

The Chairman's Initiative of (More)

Species Spotlight: How collaborative conservation led to a 'Not Warranted' ESA determination for Arctic Grayling in Montana

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Arctic grayling populations, including in Montana’s Big Hole River, had been declining for decades when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 1992 first considered listing the freshwater fish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

graylingThis installment of Species Spotlight takes a closer look at the collaborative conservation efforts since then by private landowners, conservation groups, state and federal entities. Ultimately, that work helped grow grayling populations and, in 2014, resulted in a USFWS determination that listing the species was not warranted.

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 (More)