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Wyoming Gov. Mead launches Western Governors' Endangered Species Act Initiative

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Media coverage: Reporter Laura Hancock of the Casper Star-Tribune wrote a story on the announcement that featured insights from Gov. Mead. K2 Radio's Tom Morton also wrote a piece on the launch that explored the various issues and western frustrations with the ESA. Scott Streater also reported on the initiative for E&E News in a story.

Aug. 26, 2015: Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), announced his Chairman’s Initiative: the Western Governors’ Endangered Species Act Initiative.

“The Endangered Species Act (ESA) touches the people and economies of western states in a significant way,” Gov. Mead said at a special event at the Gray Reef Access Area outside of Casper, Wyo.

“This initiative is intended to take a hard look at the ESA – where has it been successful and where are changes needed. This effort will invite participation

Western News: Alaska's mysterious whale deaths, California gray wolf sighting, Utah mega ski resort

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The Western Governors' Association offers a monthly roundup that showcases the latest policy, progress and news from Western states. Here is this month's report:

  • 930724 1 0825 gray wolf pack california.jpg standardCalifornia gray wolf packMarine mortality: Scientists have launched an investigation into the mysterious deaths of 30 large whales in the western Gulf of Alaska.
  • Wolf homecoming: gray wolf pack was spotted in Northern California for the first time in nearly a century.
  • Renewables: Construction has begun on Colorado's largest solar farm, one that backers say will generate enough electricity to power 31,000 homes more cheaply than natural gas-powered sources.
  • Storm watch: Hawaii is preparing for a potential rare hurricane to make landfall this week.
  • Gone fishing: North Dakota reported its third consecutive year of record-high fishing license sales.
  • 0730 bees1 t620Washington beekeeperEnd to hemp: The Oregon Department of Agriculture suspended its industrial hemp program.
  • Giant resort: Two Utah resorts combined into one mega resort, Park City, which is now the largest ski resort in North America with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain.
  • Farming buzz: A change in Washington's agricultural laws officially designates beekeepers as farmers.
  • Medical advances: The American Heart Association announced that their $7.1 million program significantly reduced heart attack deaths in Wyoming.

Want more state news? Find last month's report here

WGA also offers a monthly look at the work of Western Governors. Here's where to find this month's update.

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

EPA releases proposal to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas sector

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EPA LogoThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its proposal to regulate methane emissions, with a goal of cutting emissions from the oil and gas sector by up to 45% by 2025. The proposal will be published next week in the Federal Register, starting a 60-day public comment period during which the agency will hold a series of public hearings. Read the proposal.

Western Governors have been working on the issue of methane emissions, including approval of the policy resolution Methane Emissions Regulation. It requests that EPA work with states as co-regulators, recognize the work already done by states to substantially reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations, and recognize the Clean Air Act (CAA) authority states have to manage air quality within their borders. Read, download the resolution.

EPA’s proposal has been promulgated under Section 111(b) of the CAA

Western Governors respond as record-breaking wildfires burn through Forest Service budget, consume sage-grouse habitat

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ID 10 08 07 0320Photo: National Interagency Fire CenterRecord-breaking wildfires continue to rage across the West, destroying homes, forcing evacuations, and exhausting federal firefighting budgets.

The Soda Fire in Idaho is by far the largest wildfire currently burning in the U.S. and has consumed 283,000 acres. The majority of the scorched acreage has been key sage-grouse habitat.

The latest report places total burn damage across the West at a record-breaking 7.1 million acres so far this season. The unprecedented size of this season's wildfires is, in part, a product of the extreme drought in the region. Though the number of fires seen this season is roughly 80 percent of average at this time of year over the past decade, total acres burned is almost 45 percent higher than normal. Last week the National Fire Preparedness Level was raised to its highest point, PL-5, for the first time since 2013.

The U.S. Forest Service is spending $100 million a week on the fires, a pace that

Western Governors' feedback helps new National Seed Strategy better restore damaged landscapes

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The newly released National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration 2015-2020 seeks to ensure appropriate seed resources for rehabilitation and restoration of damaged landscapes across the country, including more than 2 million acres of western lands impacted by wildfire since by 2012.

The final strategy reflects a number of changes based on feedback from the Western Governors' Association (WGA) to the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA), the public-private partnership chaired by the Bureau of Land Management, which led development

Update on EPA mine spill in Colorado, emergency responses from Gov. Hickenlooper, Gov. Martinez, Gov. Herbert

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Update Aug. 17: Officials have reopened affected sections of the Animas and San Juan rivers. Testing of the contaminated waters in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah found the waters met state and federal standards considered safe for drinking and recreation.

Aug 12: On Aug. 5, 2015, workers employed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally triggered a breach at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado. The spill released a plume of more than three million gallons of polluted mine waste water containing potentially harmful contaminants that flowed into the Animas River and continued downstream.

govhickpressGov. Hickenlooper (Durango Herald)Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper declared a disaster emergency following the mine release, allocating $500,000 from the state’s Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the response and technical assessments. 

"Our priority remains to ensure public safety and minimize environmental impacts,” said Gov. Hickenlooper (see press release). “We will work closely with the EPA to continue to measure water quality as it returns to normal, but also to work together to assess other mines throughout the state to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also responded swiftly to the disaster by declaring a state of emergency. “I am heartbroken by this environmental catastrophe,” said Gov. Martinez (see a press release). “We are committed to working

Drought Update: California carrying full year of rain debt, water-saving measures in Oregon

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NASA researchers reported that California has accumulated a "rain debt" equal to an entire year's worth of precipitation from severe drought between 2012 and 2015.

The scientists calculate that the state is roughly 20 inches behind in total precipitation, which is the average amount expected to fall in the state in a single year. The current rain debt is placing extreme pressure on the state's water reserves

WGA’s Ogsbury makes staffing announcements, adds firepower for Western Governors

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Executive Director Jim Ogsbury has announced staffing changes at the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) to fortify and advance the association’s bipartisan policy work.

"These promotions and staff additions significantly strengthen the WGA team," said Ogsbury. “We are better positioned than ever to help the Western Governors take collective action on issues of critical importance to the western United States.”

The staffing news includes:

Holly Propst has been named Deputy Director. Holly continues to serve

Western Governors comment on BLM and Forest Service sage-grouse management plans

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Western Governors have submitted Consistency Reviews to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service on the federal agencies’ greater sage-grouse proposed management plans.

In their comments the governors identify inconsistencies between federal plans and state and local government plans, policies or programs. They also recommend solutions for resolving those inconsistencies.

Topics that the governors frequently commented on in their reviews included

Western Governors' News: Water conservation measures in Oregon, Arizona tribal leaders talk policy, Washington invests in transportation

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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.

ALASKA Gov. Bill Walker declared a state disaster in response to damages caused by ongoing wildfires.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed his state's tribal leaders for a roundtable

New report shows encouraging trends in Western greater sage-grouse populations

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wafwaUpdate Aug 17: The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies released a final report today on greater sage-grouse population trends across the Western United States. 

The report was prepared to provide scientific information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in advance of the upcoming Endangered Species Act listing decision on greater sage-grouse, which is expected to be made by the end of Sept. 2015. It summarizes and analyzes the information gathered over the past 50 years from the 11 western states where sage-grouse populations can be found. Find the full report here.

Aug 3: A new report shows that greater sage-grouse population in the West has grown by nearly two-thirds since 2013, a strong reversal after

A graphic look at recreation trends on public lands in the West

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longerAn enlightening new infographic from High Country News breaks down public-lands visitation and recreation in the West. The figures reveal how western recreation trends have changed over the years, looking at factors such as population increases and pop culture influences.

The infographic features a case-study on the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness in Aspen, Colo., which has seen a 189% increase in overnight visitation since 2006. Visitation statistics for Yellowstone, Denali and Arches National Parks are also given a close look.

Other highlights from the infographic:

  • 14 of the top 50 parks for visitors in 2014 are in the West, led by Lake Mead (ranked 6th, 6.9 million visitors) and the Grand Canyon (ranked 10th, 4.7 million).
  • Backpacking participation is up 43% nationwide since 2006, while RV camping has seen a 14% decline.
  • The number of permits for long-distance hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail increased by more than 750 between 2013 and 2014 -- a change largely attributed to the release of Cheryl Strayed's novel Wild and its popular film adaptation.
  • Registered snowmobiles in the western states have increased by 144% since 1990.

See the full infographic from High Country News here.

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

Western wildfires in 2015 blaze toward record levels

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635732647331276583 AP California WildfireUpdate Aug. 14: The National Fire Preparedness Level has been raised to its highest point, PL-5, for the first time since 2013. This designation permits further assistance from the military and international resources.

The latest report places the total burn damage across the West at a record-breaking 6.5 million acres so far this season. The unprecedented size and unmanageable nature of this season's wildfires is a product of the extreme drought throughout the region. Though the number of fires seen this season is less than 80 percent of average at this time of year over the past decade, the total number of acres burned is almost 40 percent higher than normal.

The Soda Fire in Idaho is by far the largest wildfire currently burning

Executive Director's Notebook: Annual Meeting a huge success, Gov. Mead's plans for a big year ahead

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By Jim Ogsbury

The Western Governors’ recent Annual Meeting at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, was an unqualified success. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is to be applauded for organizing an extraordinary event at a spectacular location.

Sandoval points AMGov. SandovalWhat made the program exceptional was the “all-in” engagement of the 10 governors in attendance. Governors joining Gov. Sandoval included Bill Walker (Alaska), Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Eddie Calvo (Guam), C.L. “Butch” Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah) and Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Highlights of the meeting included Gov. Sandoval’s release of a report on his Chairman's Initiative, the Western Governors' Drought Forum. A video capturing the themes of the report can be found here.

The governors engaged in a spirited public conversation with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and a memorable keynote address was presented by the Hon. Michael Leavitt. Leavitt, the former Governor of Utah, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services, offered an inspiring address that focused largely on a governor’s power to elevate his constituents.

The governors also approved five policy resolutions at the meeting. These resolutions pertain to transportation infrastructure, enhanced oil recovery, agriculture, water resource management and minerals policy.

Mead Speaks on Thursday AMGov. MeadThe Governors elected new leadership for the coming year: Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will serve as WGA’s Chairman, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is the organization’s Vice Chairman. Gov. Sandoval continues to serve on the association’s Executive Committee as immediate past Chairman. Gov. Mead has announced that his Chairman’s Initiative will focus on species conservation and the Endangered Species Act.

Keep an eye out for announcements about upcoming WGA events, including a September mission by the governors to Washington, D.C., and our Winter Meeting in December. It’s going to be an exciting year, as Western Governors continue to show the world what effective bipartisan leadership looks like.

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nevada Gov. Sandoval, Western Governors' Drought Forum highlighted in 'Living with Drought' report

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Fox Reno recently aired a special report, Living with Drought, that examined Nevada's historic drought and featured an interview with Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The outgoing WGA Chairman touted the work of the Western Governors' Drought Forum, his central initiative over the past year, and explained how the Western Governors are working to address water scarcity by trying to "find the best practices throughout the state and throughout the nation."

Drought Forum Cover

Gov. Sandoval also took time in the interview to highlight the Western Governors' Drought Forum Report, a roadmap to the online resource created for the initiative that collects the work of the Forum. It is arranged around seven key themes that have emerged.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum is designed to foster a regional dialogue in which states and industry can share case studies and best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management.

The most recent Western Governors' Drought Forum workshop was held in Incline Village, Nev. Take a look at other media coverage from the event:

WATCH: Western Governors' Drought Forum First-Year Video

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

WGA offers resources to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on bipartisan energy bill

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The Western Governors' Association has commended the leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for its work to craft comprehensive bipartisan energy legislation and shared resources to aid the process.

energyvisionIn the letter to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell, WGA Executive Director James Ogsbury noted: "The West is the energy breadbasket of the country, with regional energy production coming from a diverse range of sources including petroleum-based sources, coal, hydroelectric generation, renewable sources including wind, solar and geothermal electricity generation, and nuclear power generation."

The letter thanked the committee for considering the views of the Western Governors and shared relevant WGA resources and reports, including:

Read, download the letter 

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

Gov. Bullock signs MOU with state, federal partners for collaborative preservation of Montana sage-grouse habitat

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MOU Montana signingSigning the agreement at the Montana capitol, from left: SWCDMI President Jeff Wivholm, Gov. Steve Bullock and NRCS Chief Jason WellerGov. Steve Bullock signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday to work with state and federal partners on the preservation of sage-grouse habitat on working rangelands in Montana.

The Montana Sage Grouse Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) encourages collaboration between the state, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana Incorporated, and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).

This MOU provides the framework for each party to collaborate on agreed-upon priorities, share expertise, and streamline protection and enhancement of sage-grouse habitat. The agreement will align local, state and federal resources to bolster efforts to help ranchers in the state voluntarily help sage-grouse while maintaining profitable and resilient grazing lands.

“Preservation of the greater sage-grouse is a priority for my administration,” said Gov. Bullock. “Our economy, and our Montana way of life depends on all of us working together to ensure a bright future for the grouse and a continued thriving economy.”

The Success on the Range report from NRCS's Sage Grouse Initiative also was released at the signing. The report captures the conservation work of the initiative, which has conserved more than 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat across 11 Western States since 2010.

Sage Grouse Inventory Cover 2014Today's news follows other extensive greater sage grouse conservation efforts across the West. Learn more about the recent conservation policy actions from the other Western Governors here.

The Western Governors also released the 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory, highlighting the effective conservation work undertaken by public, private and non-governmental groups during the past year across the 11-state range of the greater sage grouse. Find the report here.

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

The West outpaces the nation in entrepreneurial activity

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kauffmanThe recently released 2015 Kauffman Index: Startup Activity shows that the pioneer spirit is alive and well in the West. The report brings together the latest data available on entrepreneurial trends and featured eight western states in its top 10 states for startup activity.

For the third year in a row, Montana was named the top state in the country for entrepreneurial activity. The next highest ranks were claimed by Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado. Other western states in the top 10 included South Dakota, Alaska, Idaho and Nevada.

Following release of the report, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a statement highlighting the importance of continuing to nurture emerging industries and encouraging innovation.

“It is the entrepreneurial spirit that provides much of our state’s success,” Gov. Bullock said. “These entrepreneurs have a good idea and the courage to take the risk to make it a reality. I’m pleased that Montana continues to lead the nation in helping these innovators succeed.”

See the full rankings here.

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

  • Utah Gov Gary HerbertUtah Gov. HerbertNebraska, North Dakota and Utah had the lowest unemployment rates in the nation in the latest monthly rankings.
  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert launched the "Doing Business in Utah" initiative to simplify the process for creating successful businesses in the state.
  • Tesla Motors nearly tripled its Nevada land holdings in recent months as it continues its 'gigafactory' construction.
  • Read Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's Op-Ed about his trade mission to Mexico and resulting economic opportunities.
  • The West led the nation in the latest job creation rankings: Utah, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, California and Texas were all in the top 10.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with business executives and industry leaders in New York City to promote Texas' business climate.

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

Western Governors encouraged by BLM fertility control research for wild horses and burros

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whbprogram. WidePar 000104 Image.WideParimage.2.2Western Governors are encouraged by the recent announcement by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about its new research to curb population growth and improve the health of wild horse and burro herds.

BLM officials report that scientists working on these research projects will "pursue the development of safe and humane on-range management techniques, including BLM’s priority to develop longer lasting fertility-control vaccines, as well as methods for spaying and neutering wild horses."

That aligns well with Western Governors' Association Policy Resolution 2015-01, "Wild Horse and Burro Management," which says "research and other efforts to improve fertility control should be expedited" as a step toward proper wild horse and burro management.

Wild horses and burros are managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Increasingly, these federal agencies have been unable to adequately manage wild horse and burro populations, with populations nearly double appropriate management levels.

Western Governors have urged BLM and the Forest Service to implement practices that keep populations at appropriate levels to promote horse and burro health and rangeland vitality

Read, download WGA policy resolution, "Wild Horse and Burro Management"

 

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

Read, download Western Governors' Association 2015 Annual Report

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AR15redoThe Western Governors' Association has released its 2015 Annual Report.

The report examines the regional policy issues that Western Governors worked on in the past year, including:

  • Energy: The rollout of the RAPID Toolkit, methane emissions, federal permit streamlining project;
  • Wildlife: Sage-grouse conservation, wild horses and burros management, and the Endangered Species Act;
  • Water Management: The Western Governors' Drought Forum, the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive, Waters of the U.S.;
  • Lands & Wildfire Management: Rangeland fire risk and the ongoing issue of "fire-borrowing."

The report also offers insight into how WGA operates, including our fiscal year financial report, and features columns by the 2015 WGA Chairman, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, as well as WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury.

Read, download the 2015 Annual Report

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

Western News: Raging wildfires, Idaho drone mapping, Colorado health initiative

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The Western Governors' Association offers a monthly roundup that showcases the latest policy, progress and news from Western states. Here is this month's report:

  • 201506558ae74e49858California wildfireRaging wildfires: Firefighters are battling fast-moving wildfires across the West, including the 116,067-acre Galena Zone Fires in Alaska, the 31,359-acre Lake Fire in California, the 27,166-acre Corner Creek Fire in Oregon and the 2,950-acre Sleepy Hollow Fire in Washington.
  • Bird conservation: The Idaho Department of Fish and Game released a draft plan to manage Columbian sharp-tailed grouse.
  • Colossal news: Paleontologists discovered the first dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington.
  • Air quality: Smoke from Canadian wildfires is choking air in the Western U.S., leading to health advisories as far south as Colorado.
  • Company expansion: Uber opened its Center of Excellence in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
  • IMG 1236 webWashington dinosaur fossilAerial mapping: Scientists deployed drones over western Idaho to map landscape as part of an effort to reduce wildfire risks and protect wildlife including sage-grouse.
  • Health advances: Colorado made national headlines for a state health department initiative that lowered teen pregnancy rates by 40% over six years.
  • Business funding: The new equity crowdfunding bill signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey went into effect, allowing small business owners more options for obtaining capital.

Want more state news? Find last month's report here

WGA also offers a monthly look at the work of Western Governors. Here's where to find this month's update.

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

Read, download the Western Governors’ Drought Forum report

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Droght Forum Cover ImageThe first year of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum has provided a platform for regional experts to share case studies and best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management.

The Drought Forum, which is the initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, will continue in the years ahead. Gov. Sandoval recently hosted a meeting of the initiative in Nevada to discuss the most significant themes to emerge during the initiative's first year.

The meeting at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nev., also saw the release of the Western Governors Drought Forum Report. This roadmap to the online resource that collects the work of the Forum is arranged around seven key themes that emerged during the first year of the Forum:

  • Data and Analysis
  • Produced, Reused and Brackish Water
  • Forest Health and Soil Stewardship
  • Water Conservation and Efficiency
  • Infrastructure and Investment
  • Working within Institutional Frameworks to Manage Drought
  • Communication and Collaboration

"Our Drought Forum discussions have shown that westerners are experts at innovating in response to water supply variability," said Gov. Sandoval. "They have also shown the importance of communicating across sectors and state lines to best respond to drought. Western states will continue to thrive, even with the threat of drought, so long as we work together and make the most of the water we have."

Read, download: Western Governors' Drought Forum Report

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

WGA Annual Meeting Recap: Resolutions, drought report, Chairman's Initiative on ESA

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Gov Sandoval DaisWGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian SandovalDrought, transportation, new energy storage options, and sage-grouse conservation were just some of the topics addressed by 10 Western Governors during the Western Governors' Association 2015 Annual Meeting June 24-26 in Incline Village, Nevada.

Western Governors attending the meeting, hosted by WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, included: Bill Walker (Alaska), Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Eddie Calvo (Guam), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah), and Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Annual Meeting Day 1

Jewell CropSecretary JewellWGA Chairman Gov. Brian Sandoval opened the Annual Meeting by releasing the first-year report on his Chairman's Initiative, the Western Governors' Drought Forum, followed by a discussion with drought experts who also offered a report on upcoming conditions.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell delivered a keynote address and then participated in a spirited Q&A with the governors, which touched on sage-grouse conservation. That concluded the day's formal sessions before the Governors participated in a press conference. Day 1 Recap

Annual Meeting Day 2

The Governors elected Wyoming Gov. Mead as their incoming WGA Chairman on the Otter Hick Laugh at Sand HarborGovernors Otter, left, and Hickenlooper share a laugh after the Sand Harbor State Park event.second day of the meeting and approved five policy resolutions on transportation, enhanced oil recovery, agriculture, water resource management and minerals policy.

They also heard a keynote address by Michael Leavitt, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Governor of Utah, and engaged with transportation experts on pressing regional issues.

Later, the meeting moved to nearby Sand Harbor State Park, where Nevada and California officials discussed how collaboration supported environmental and economic success at Lake Tahoe. Day 2 Recap

Annual Meeting Day 3

Gov Matt Mead InitiativeGov. Matt MeadThe final day opened with a discussion of new, utility-scale energy storage featuring representatives from Tesla, Abengoa Solar, Arizona Public Service and NV Energy.

Incoming WGA Chairman Gov. Mead concluded the meeting with a speech about his Chairman's Initiative for the coming year: an examination of the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. Mead said that his focus resulted from the impact that ESA has had on the West and reflects the fact that western states have shown leadership in species conservation and their habitats.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will serve as WGA Vice Chairman in the coming year. Day 3 Recap

Ten GovernorsAttendees at the 2015 WGA Annual Meeting, from left: Bill Walker (Alaska), Butch Otter (Idaho), Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Gary Herbert (Utah), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Steve Bullock (Montana), Eddie Calvo (Guam), Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

 

WGA Annual Meeting: Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will focus on the Endangered Species Act for 2016 Chairman's Initiative

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Gov Matt Mead InitiativeGov. Matt Mead Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will focus on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) during his year as Chairman of the Western Governors' Association. Gov. Mead discussed his Chairman's Initiative for 2016 at the final session of the 2015 Annual Meeting in Incline Village, Nev.

Gov. Mead said that his focus was in part a result of the impact that ESA has had on western states for decades and a reflection of the fact that western states have shown leadership in species conservation and their habitats. The bipartisan nature of WGA, he added, allows the Western Governors to be well positioned to lead on the issue.

"This is not a Republican issue, it is not a Democratic issue, it is a western issue," he told the audience during the final day of the Annual Meeting.

Habitat conservation, recovery of species, making the law better -- all of these are efforts that Gov. Mead said would be goals for his chairmanship in the coming year.

The governor concluded by inviting the audience to plan ahead for the June 2016 Annual Meeting in his homteown of Jackson, Wyoming.

Gov. Mead takes the gavel from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, who has served as WGA Chairman for the past year and made the Western Governor's Drought Forum his Chaiman's Initiative. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will serve as WGA's Vice Chairman.

Utility-Scale Energy Storage: Representatives from Tesla, Abengoa Solar, Arizona Public Service and NVEnergy joined the Governors to discuss the potential of large-scale energy storage for utilities and consumers. Read a story about this lively discussion from E&E News.

2015 Annual Meeting Highlights

Drought Forum Cover

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

WGA Annual Meeting: Transportation, Leavitt keynote, new chairman election fill Day 2

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Leavitt Speech PhotoMichael LeavittWestern Governors approved five policy resolutions, heard a keynote address by Michael Leavitt, engaged with transportation experts on pressing regional issues, and elected the incoming WGA Chairman during day two of the 2015 Annual Meeting in Incline Village, Nev.

After the morning sessions were completed at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, the meeting moved to nearby Sand Harbor State Park for a discussion of how collaboration between California and Nevada has helped preserve and protect Lake Tahoe and the surrounding environment.

Keynote address by Michael O. Leavitt

The former three-term Governor of Utah and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offered an engaging keynote that included his memories of being a governor as well as an overview of the changing healthcare landscape.

  • "Between now and 10years from now we are likely to see Medicaid expand to cover about one third of the population."
  • “"I believe it's crucial that you as governors be reminded how much influence you have over issues in healthcare."

Improving Western Transportation Networks

  • Gov. Gary Herbert: "If regulation could be modified and streamlined, there could be up to a 25% savings in the road projects we are building today. I'd like to see a movement to push on the federal government to improve the process and remove some of the red tape. We will build better roads, for less money."
  • Pat Thomas, Chairman, American Trucking Association: “"We have in the neighborhood of 7 million people involved in our business; 1 in 16 workers in America is connected to the trucking business.
  • Steve Hill, Director, NV Governor's Office of Economic Development: "We think that it is important that the West be on the cutting edge of autonomous vehicle development as a tool to grow the economy in general, and as a tool for economic development."

Governors' Policy Roundtable and Business Session

The BootIncoming Chairman Matt Mead of Wyoming presents Gov. Sandoval a gift of hand-made boots in appreciation for his work during the past year as Chaiman.During the business session the Govrnors elected Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead as the incoming WGA Chairman and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was chosen as WGA Vice Chairman. In addition, the Governors approved five policy resolutions on topics as varied as enhanced oil recovery and water resource managenment. Read the resolutions.

The governors also released the WGA 2015 Annual Report.

The day's activities concluded with a short trip south to Sand Harbor State Park, where the topic was the collaborative effort by California and Nevada to preserve and protect Lake Tahoe. Speakers included Gov. Sandoval; John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources; Joanne Marchetta, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and Pete Sonntag, Chief Operating Officer of Heavenly Mountain Resort.

Drought Forum Cover2015 Annual Meeting

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Western Governors approve policy resolutions on transportation, enhanced oil recovery, agriculture, water resource management, minerals

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Western Governors formally approved five new policy resolutions at the Western Governors' Association 2015 Annual Meeting in Incline Village, Nev., on transportation, enhanced oil recovery, agriculture, water resource management and minerals policy. The resolutions include:

  • Transportation Infrastructure in the Western United States: Western Governors have enacted this resolution to support reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Board and to encourage cooperation and planning that will facilitate investment in the western transportation network, avoid conflict between jurisdictions and prevent work slowdowns at western ports.
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery: This resolution outlines Western Governors’ support of policies and incentives that advance investment in enhanced oil recovery projects, infrastructure, technology and research.
  • Western Agriculture: In this resolution, Western Governors express their support for programs that strengthen local farm families and communities, including programs for all agricultural working lands, forests, and rangelands. 
  • Water Resource Management in the West: This is an update of the Governors’ existing policy resolution on water supply management.  It has been updated to reflect the key themes of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum, as well as the current water management needs and prerogatives of our western states.
  • National Minerals Policy: Revisions to the Governors’ resolution supporting a National Minerals Policy address the critical issue of permitting delays, and focus on the importance of the timely processing of mining permit applications.

Western Governors enact new policy resolutions and amend existing resolutions on a bi-annual basis.  All of WGA’s current resolutions can be found on our Policies Page.

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

WGA Annual Meeting: Drought, sage-grouse conservation dominate Day 1

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2015 Western GovernorsAttendees at the 2015 WGA Annual Meeting, from left: Bill Walker (Alaska), Butch Otter (Idaho), Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Gary Herbert (Utah), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Steve Bullock (Montana), Eddie Calvo (Guam), Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Drought, wildfires and sage-grouse conservation were just some of the topics addressed on day one of the Western Governors' Association 2015 Annual Meeting in Incline Village, Nev.

WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval opened the day by formally releasing the first-year report on his Chairman's Initiative, the Western Governors' Drought Forum, welcomed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the stage for a keynote address, then led a spirited session with media by the shores of Lake Tahoe at day's end.

Ten Western Governors, led by Gov. Sandoval, took part in the day's sessions, including Bill Walker (Alaska), Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Eddie Calvo (Guam), Butch Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah) and Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Otter Dalrymple BullockGov. Otter, center, shares a laugh from Gov. Dalrymple, left, and Gov. BullockSome highlights from the day's sessions at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.

Managing Drought: Findings of the Western Governors' Drought Forum

  • Manson BrownAssistant. Secretary of Commerce, Environmental Observation and Prediction: "We call the products and services we produce 'environmental intelligence' – timely, accurate information that helps respond to events including drought."
  • William SarniDirector and Practice Leader, Water Strategy Social Impact at Deloitte Consulting: “I believe we absolutely need better data, more data, but there’s a great deal you can do with existing data sources."
  • Michael TeagueSecretary of Energy and the Environment, State of Oklahoma: While discussing the produced water from hydraulic fracturing. "Why not treat and use that produced water beneficially? We are working with EPA to determine what we need to do at the federal level and in our states."
  • Gov. Gary Herbert: "I am concerned about modeling – if we make assumptions based on the wrong thing, we can make the wrong decisions. How accurate can we be?"

Keynote: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Jewell CropInterior Secretary Jewell discussed a variety of issues, including the importance of moving away from the current "fire borrowing" model for funding wildfire suppression that transfers funds from other programs, such as hazardous fuel reduction and restoration projects, to pay for wildfire suppression.

Secretary Jewell also lauded the Governors' greater sage-grouse conservation work and said she "remained optimistic that Fish and Wildlife Service will have the necessary certainty to reach a 'not warranted' decision on the greater sage-grouse."

Press ConferenceGov. Sandoval, left, watches Gov. Herbert address the media at he press conference that concluded the day. Also on hand, from left, Wyoming Gov. Mead, Alaska Gov. Walker, Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper and Montana Gov. Bullock

Drought Forum Cover2015 Annual Meeting

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Learn more about the work of the Western Governors by reviewing our policy outreach and visiting the blog. You can also sign up for e-mail updates and follow the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Western Governors’ Drought Forum meeting wraps up first year, looks ahead

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Meeting Photo SandovalGov. Brian SandovalThe Western Governors’ Drought Forum gathered water management experts in Nevada to discuss the most significant themes to emerge during the initiative's first year and next steps to consider to better anticipate and manage drought.

The meeting at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nev., touched on a variety of subjects: the latest regional drought developments, how Governors are responding to drought, and efforts to better distill drought data and present it in more user-friendly formats.

The Forum is the initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. It is designed to foster a regional dialogue in which states and industry can share case studies and best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management.

Gov. Sandoval also released the Western Governors Drought Forum Report, which is designed as a roadmap to the online resource that collects the work of the Forum and is arranged around seven key themes that have emerged during the first year of the Forum.

Drought Forum Cover"Our Drought Forum discussions have shown that westerners are experts at innovating in response to water supply variability," said Gov. Sandoval. "They have also shown the importance of communicating across sectors and state lines to best respond to drought.  Western states will continue to thrive, even with the threat of drought, so long as we work together and make the most of the water we have."

Gubernatorial leadership in drought response is nothing new, noted Veva Deheza, Deputy Director, National Integrated Drought Information System, NOAA. During the session "Drought Outlook and Latest Developments" Dehaza cited governors' actions over the past decades -- including an MOU signed by Western Governors with NOAA last year -- before concluding “This has been an active governorship that has been cognitive of drought for a long time and taken steps to address it.”

Other comments from the day, which ended with remarks by Gov. Sandoval:

  • Meeting Photo LairdJohn Laird listens to Leo DrozdoffJohn Laird, the California Secretary for Natural Resources, explained that severe penalties (including mandatory water usage classes for chronic abusers) have ultimately resulted in positive water use trends in his hometown of Santa Cruz, Calif. “What we have learned is that strict water regulations really do limit water use, and we’re trying to take that out more broadly in the state.”
  • Leo Drozdoff, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, reminded: “Conditions throughout the West are different. So, too, are the challenges … What’s important not to do is pit one state against the other. One size does not fit all.”
  • Michael Teague, Secretary of Energy and Natural Resources in Oklahoma said that collaboration between state agencies needs to become a mindset, not a once-in-a-while project. "So much of this is just breaking out of the silos.”

The meeting also included an update on the latest drought outlook by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an overview of data collection and analysis efforts for drought management.

WATCH: Western Governors' Drought Forum First-Year Video

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

Drought Update: Recent heavy rain may delay Lake Mead water cuts

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doublelakemead t653Lake Mead, Las Vegas SunColorado's exceptionally wet May provided critical relief to the drought-stricken Colorado River basin and could help delay mandatory water supply cuts in Nevada and Arizona, according to updated projections released by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Previous forecasts for the Colorado River predicted that Lake Mead's elevation would drop dangerously close to levels that would trigger mandatory cuts in water supplies by next year. The new projections for January 2017 are 16 feet higher than previous projections from just a month ago.

The recent precipitation influx is not enough to make a sizeable dent in the area's long-term water scarcity issue, but it does slow the projected decline in lake elevation at least in the short term.

Learn more in a news story by Conor Shine of the Las Vegas Sun.

The Western Governors' Drought Forum is the Chairman's Initiative of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Part of that effort is to share the latest news about drought and its impact on the West.

  • droughtmonitorjuneOregon Gov. Kate Brown declared drought emergencies in 19 counties and launched the #ORdrought awareness campaign.
  • Water managers in Utah urged drought consciousness despite heavy May rains.
  • Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will invest nearly $50 million to help conserve water in western states.
  • Businesses and nonprofits in 21 Idaho counties were offered drought assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Following Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide drought declaration, farmers and wildlife managers are bracing for a dry summer.
  • California officials ordered holders of some of the oldest and most significant water-rights claims in the state to stop drawing water.
  • Less than 6% of Oklahoma is categorized as abnormally dry after record-breaking May rains made an impressive dent in the state's drought.
  • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order instituting water conservation practices for state agencies.

Read last month's Drought Update

Learn more ...

The Western Governors' Drought Forum also includes regional workshops that gather experts to share best practices, case studies and other resources to help states better anticipate and manage drought. Learn more on the Drought Forum website. You can also sign up for e-mail updates (select "Water and Drought" on this page). 

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

Western Governors' News: Hawaii renewable energy, Idaho trade mission, Oregon wildfire awareness

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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.

ALASKA Gov. Bill Walker hosted a series of conversations with elected officials and the public on building a sustainable fiscal future.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey announced a spending plan that would inject $1.8 billion into K-12 schools over five years without raising taxes.

CFihZNyUIAExDpJColorado Gov. Hickenlooper and Utah Gov. HerbertCALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown proposed heavy fines for water wasters in an effort to battle the state's record drought.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that funds technology able to predict the direction and intensity of wildfires.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige signed a bill directing the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2045.

IDAHO Gov. Butch Otter touted the success of his recent trade mission to Peru and Mexico.

KANSAS Gov. Sam Brownback proposed tax policy to promote economic growth and balance the budget.

CHBLtdoUkAAEeA3Hawaii Gov. IgeMONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock signed bills to preserve and promote tribal languages.

NEBRASKA Gov. Pete Ricketts promoted safe travel and the ‘Click It or Ticket’ initiative.

NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval, WGA Chairman, signed a bill that creates millions of dollars in incentives to help combat the state's severe teacher shortage.

NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez announced plans to serve more than 2 million nutritious meals to low-income children over the summer break.

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Jack Dalrymple joined Nuverra Environmental Solutions to introduce new technology to reduce, recycle and reuse drill cuttings.

OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin signed public education improvement bills to enhance teacher evaluations and promote early learning and literacy.

katebrownOregon Gov. BrownOREGON Gov. Kate Brown joined other Western Governors in declaring May as Wildfire Awareness Month and released two PSAs focused on wildfire prevention.

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard awarded more than $2.8 million in Community Development Block Grants to aid six local projects.

TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott signed bills to help veterans get access to better mental health care and job opportunities.

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert hosted Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper and industry leaders at the fourth annual Governor’s Utah Energy Development Summit.

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee donated his pay raise to a fundraising site that helps with school expenses.

WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead announced plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of statehood.

Read last month's Western Governors' News.

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

Executive Director's Notebook: Attention to detail ensures a great Annual Meeting

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By Jim Ogsbury

As I was leaving the office one day last week, I noticed two of WGA’s dedicated staff members (working late as usual) divvying up state flags. Curious, I asked what they were doing and learned that they were taking the flags home to iron in preparation for this month’s annual meeting in Lake Tahoe. Now that is some kind of commitment and attention to detail!

LeavittMike LeavittThe energy level is always high in our Denver office, but we’ve moved into hyper-drive as we approach the Western Governors' Association 2015 Annual Meeting, scheduled for June 24-26 at Lake Tahoe in Nevada. The agenda is coming together nicely, and we have added a keynote address by the Honorable Mike Leavitt, who has served as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Governor of Utah. Attendees will also hear from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

I am excited to report that to date 10 Western Governors have registered to attend. Nevada Governor and WGA Chairman Brian Sandoval will be joined by: Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

During the meeting’s public sessions, the Governors will discuss a variety of Western policy issues, including drought, transportation and energy. (Here’s the latest agenda). There will also be lots of time for interaction with and between the Governors, who optimize the Annual Meeting’s opportunities to learn from panelists, registrants and each other. I am confident you will be struck by their pragmatism, humor, dynamic leadership and bipartisan approach to problem-solving.

The Annual Meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Incline Village, Nevada. Registration is outpacing last year’s highly attended meeting, but there is still time and room for you to register now. You won’t want to miss our neatly pressed state flags!

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury testifies about drought before Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

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joWGA Executive Director Jim OgsburyThe Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) today explored the challenges presented by western drought conditions and ways to respond.

Western Governors' Association (WGA) Executive Director Jim Ogsbury was part of an array of expert witnesses that shared perspectives on drought.

Ogsbury's testimony highlighted the extensive policy actions taken by governors to combat water scarcity within their own states. Ogsbury also provided an overview of the Western Governors' Drought Forum, a regional effort created by WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval as a way for states to share case studies and best practices on drought policy, preparedness and management.

In his oral testimony, Ogsbury expressed that the Western Governors look forward to working in state-federal partnerships "to craft solutions that both apply the substantial resources of the federal government and respect the authority and expertise of states to manage water within their borders."

The testimony also highlighted other drought response actions in the West:

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown announced water restrictions for his state in the face of record-low snowpack.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency.
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared drought emergencies in 15 counties and emphasized public awareness with a social media campaign.
  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper released a draft of the first-ever state water plan for public review.

ENR Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and the committee also heard testimony from: Mike Connor, Interior Deputy Secretary; Thomas Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources; Tom Loranger, water resources program manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology; Betsy Cody, natural resources policy specialist for the Congressional Research Service; and Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming Co., on behalf of the Family Farm Alliance.

Read, Download WGA's written testimony
Visit Western Governors' Drought Forum website
Find an archived video of the hearing

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

Federal sage-grouse conservation plans unveiled for Western public lands

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Wyoming Gov Matt MeadWyoming Gov. Matt Mead, co-chair of the Sage-Grouse Task Force, joined Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Thursday (May 28) for the announcement of a milestone in the state-federal partnership to protect Western sagebrush habitat.

At an event in Cheyenne, Wyo., Secretary Jewell unveiled final environmental reviews for proposed land use plans in 10 western states.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Mug“The West is rapidly changing – with increasingly intense wildfires, invasive species and development altering the sagebrush landscape and threatening wildlife, ranching and our outdoor heritage,” Secretary Jewell said in a press release. “Together with conservation efforts from states and private landowners, we are laying an important foundation to save the disappearing sagebrush landscape of the American West.”

"I think they've done an extraordinary job," Gov. Mead said during today's press conference (E&E News story, subscripion required). "This is not just about the sage-grouse, it's about the habitat; it's about the West. We want to have oil and gas development, tourism and (agriculture).

"“It is appropriate to celebrate today," Gov. Mead said. "We celebrate our partnerships with the federal government and western states – we have come a long way since 2007 but there is still work to be done."

Colorado Gov John Hickenlooper“We’re cautiously optimistic about the approach taken by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in the land use plans," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, co-chair of the Sage Grouse Task Force. "We’ve had a strong partnership with the Interior Department, and while we still have some difficulties with the BLM’s approach, we remain committed to keep working through those issues. We continue to believe state-led efforts are the best approach to protecting the greater sage grouse."

Other federal, state and local partners participating in the announcement included: USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie; Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, and Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Director Bob Budd.

Today's news follows other extensive greater sage-grouse conservation efforts across the West:

  • Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has issued an Executive Order that put legal authority behind his greater sage-grouse protection plan, which proposes conservation actions on approximately 15 million acres across southern Idaho.
  • Sage Grouse Inventory Cover 2014Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an Executive Order directing state agencies to take additional conservation measures for the greater sage-grouse.
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued an Executive Order establishing the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program, which seeks to maintain state management of the sage-grouse by protecting its habitat, while respecting the private property rights of Montanans.
  • The Western Governors have released the 2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory, highlighting the effective conservation work undertaken by public, private and non-governmental groups during the past year across the 11-state range of the greater sage-grouse. Find the report here.

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

National Parks in the West report record-breaking visitor numbers

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DF9D069A A2E7 77FF 60860E3C4A8F5AEFJoshua Tree National Park

The National Park Service (NPS) system saw more than 292 million recreation visits during 2014 that generated nearly $16 billion in economic activity. These impressive numbers were spearheaded by the 15 million visitors to California's Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the most visits of any NPS site in the country.

System-wide visitation estimates in 2014 increased by 7% (or 19.2 million visits) compared to 2013, and several national parks saw record-breaking numbers.

National parks with all-time high visitation numbers included:

See the full 2014 National Park Visitor Report here.

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