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Western Governors reiterate need for 'substantial' state role in regional review of Section 386 corridors

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368propcorrWestern Governors have reiterated the need for "substantial" state consultation in the regional review of West-wide energy corridor designations mandated by Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in letters to  Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Thomas Tidwell. 

The Governors' most recent letters -- follow-ups to previous outreach regarding the federal strategy and timeline for undertaking the regional reviews -- assert that the agencies' proposed regional review process, which is already underway, "falls short of the meaningful and substantial involvement that states expect and for which Governors have been asking since 2013."

The Governors continue to push for more state involvement on the Interagency Workgroup, reiterate the need for improved siting and permitting of linear transmission projects, and expand on questions regarding the integration of the corridor review process with revised mitigation policies and BLM's Planning 2.0 Initiative.

The Governors also emphasize their desire to work with federal agencies to define corridors that consider "states’ land use requirements, growth priorities and long-term energy planning needs."

Read, download the letters to BLM Director Kornze and USFS Chief Tidwell.

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

Western Governors' News: California earthquake warning system, Colorado apprenticeship program, Nevada employment record

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

California Gov Jerry BrownGov. BrownALASKA Gov. Bill Walker met with South Korean government and business officials about partnership opportunities in Alaska’s liquefied natural gas project.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey lit the state capitol purple to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to help advance the development of a statewide earthquake early warning system.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper announced funding of $9.5 million to launch statewide youth apprenticeship and career-readiness programs.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation after heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage throughout the state.

IDAHO Gov. Butch Otter highlighted how the state is fighting wildfires through the power of partnerships.

Colorado Gov John HickenlooperGov. HickenlooperKANSAS Gov. Sam Brownback announced more than $1 million in grants to help victims of domestic violence.

MONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock, WGA Chair, announced increased assistance for Montana veterans in need.

NEBRASKA Gov. Pete Ricketts highlighted Manufacturing Day to celebrate the state's second largest industry.

NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval announced that Nevada has surpassed pre-recession employment, gaining back more than all of the jobs lost during the recession.

NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez announced that Facebook chose New Mexico after a nationwide search to be the site of its new high-tech data center.

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Jack Dalrymple highlighted the success of the state’s workforce development programs and initiatives.

Nevada Gov Brian SandovalGov. SandovalOKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin kicked off her seventh annual Feeding Oklahoma Drive with the goal of raising 2 million meals to help hungry families, children and seniors.

OREGON Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order directing state agencies to completely overhaul their cybersecurity systems.

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard, WGA Vice Chair, topped a national governors poll with the highest approval ratings.

TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott announced an initiative to establish innovative academies in Texas high schools.

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert launched the Do the Write Thing Challenge aimed at combating youth violence in homes, schools and neighborhoods.

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order to help combat the state's opioid crisis.

WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead highlighted his Classroom Connectivity Initiative, a coordinated effort to help improve school Wi-Fi access.

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.

Best of the West: California's new fault line, Bundy's emotional testimony, Hawaii's 'twilight zone'

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Oct. 3, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

newfaultdiscGeologist taking measurements of onshore sediment layers near the new faultQuake Concerns: Researchers have discovered an underwater fault line in southern California that runs parallel to the San Andreas Fault. This news comes in the wake of a recent swarm of about 200 earthquakes in the state that heightened concerns about the "Big One."

Bundy Testifies: Ammon Bundy's emotional testimony at the Oregon standoff trial this week touched on guns and divine intervention, among other things. Take a look at the heated exchanges between the federal judge and Bundy's lawyer.

Island Wonders: Watch a rare summit eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano and learn about the unexpected life thriving in that state's 'twilight zone.'

Water Conservation Slip: For the third consecutive month, California water consumption has increased compared to 2015, prompting concerns about the state's recently relaxed water restrictions.

Wild, Wild West: A very lucky (or very unlucky) Montana man survived two attacks in one day by the same grizzly bear. Also: check out the record-setting 9.7-foot sturgeon caught in Idaho.

See last week's Best of the West.

WGA this week hosted the first webinar for the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative, the central policy effort of WGA Chair and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Watch the webinar: Managing Electricity Reliability Risks on Forests and Rangeland.

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

Species Spotlight: Proactive Conservation Efforts Bring Channel Island Fox from Endangered to Recovered in Record Time

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24213309803 d530d36742 oThe Channel Island fox is a diminutive species of fox endemic to the Channel Islands in Southern California. The island fox was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2004 due to predation by non-native golden eagles, habitat degradation and disease introduced by mainland species entering the islands.

This installment of Species Spotlight takes a closer look at partnership-driven conservation efforts that brought the island fox from the brink of extinction in 2004 to a delisting due to recovery in 2016. This effort represents the fastest successful recovery for any ESA listed mammal in the United States.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

In the early 1990s scientists began to notice a dramatic decline in island fox numbers. Partners from the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, the Catalina Island Conservancy and numerous other groups recognized the dire situation of the island fox and initiated a captive breeding program in 1998.

Following the 2004 island fox ESA listing, a golden eagle capture and relocation program was initiated. The program was designed to remove golden eagles – a predator to which the fox had no natural adaptation – and replace them with bald eagles. Given bald eagles’ preference for aquatic prey and historical habitation of the islands, they do not present a significant predatory threat for the island foxes.

Following the golden eagle relocation program, partners began the process of removing introduced mule deer and elk and feral goats, pigs and sheep. These introduced species were severely degrading habitat and inviting a suite of invasive plants to take hold on the islands. The National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy were able to successfully remove a variety of introduced mammal species from the islands, which allowed native vegetation in critical island fox habitat to rebound.

Canine distemper, a disease introduced to the islands by non-native dogs and raccoons, was responsible for nearly decimating the island fox population on Santa Catalina Island in the 1990s. In response, federal, state and private groups assisted in rounding up the remaining foxes and administering distemper and rabies vaccinations on all of the islands containing foxes. The diseases had not yet reached the other islands containing foxes, but precautionary vaccinations were administered to “core populations” of foxes on all islands to ensure that there will be sufficient survivors if the diseases were to arrive.

RESULTS

On Aug. 11, 2016, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the final delisting of the island fox. At the time of the 2004 endangered listing, the FWS estimated that there were fewer than 100 foxes remaining on all of the Channel Islands. By 2015, that number had reached roughly 4,000.

The FWS will continue to monitor the status of the island fox through microchips, radio tracking collars, annual counts and a continued vaccination program. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell remarked in a press release that “the island fox recovery is an incredible success story about the power of partnerships and the ability of collaborative conservation to correct course for a species on the brink of extinction.”

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.

More in the Species Spotlight series: 

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

 

Western Wildfire Update: See region’s latest burn damage

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IMG 3942Wildfire season is raging across the West. Check here for the latest updates from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) on the total burn damage across the West and the major fires in the region.

NIFC's roots trace to 1965, when the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Weather Service agreed to collaborate on national fire planning and operations. The National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have since joined. (More)

Best of the West: Oregon standoff prosecutors rest case, Idaho previews solar roads, Utah home to 'unicorns'

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Sept. 26, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

judgedrawingTrial sketch of federal judgeMalheur Occupation Trial: Following 10 days of testimony, prosecutors rested their case against the Oregon standoff defendants with a dramatic display of firearms seized from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The defense team has begun to call witnesses.

Solar Roads: An Idaho city will be the first in the nation to utilize roads featuring solar panels and thousands of LED lights.

Silicon Slopes: Find out why Utah's "Silicon Slopes" has become a magnet for highly valued tech startups known as 'unicorns.'

Yellowstone River Recovery: Biologists are beginning to study the effects of the parasite outbreak now that the Yellowstone River is fully open after its unprecedented fish kill and closure.

Public Lands: Learn how the U.S. Forest Service plans to create a cultural mission shift that encourages the next generation to explore public lands.

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.

WATCH: Chairman's Initiative webinar series launches with focus on managing electricity reliability risks on forests and rangeland

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The Western Governors' Association hosted the first in a series of webinars for the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on Oct. 5. 

Managing Electricity Reliability Risks on Forests and Rangeland examined risks to power systems on public and private forests and rangelands, and evaluate how proper management of these risks can improve electricity reliability and mitigate wildfire danger. 

The webinar was moderated by Anne Beard, Manager, Vegetation Management and T&D Asset Management, Public Service Company of New Mexico. The panelists: Randy Miller, Director, Vegetation Management, PacifiCorp; Reggie Woodruff, Energy Program Manager, U.S. Forest Service; Tom Sullivan, Audit Committee Chair, Right-of-Way Stewardship Council.

The Chairman's Initiative of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock enables states and land managers to share best practices and policy options for forest and rangeland management. Learn more

Watch other webinars in this series:

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

Jackson Hole livestream goes viral (and other great Western livestreams to watch)

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jacksonlivePeople can’t stop watching a livestream of a random street in a Wyoming mountain town.

A YouTube channel broadcasting the central intersection in Jackson Hole, Wyo., has the internet mesmerized. No one quite understands how a livestream of small-town traffic (or lack thereof) originally piqued people's interest, but the resulting fanfare has thousands of people flocking to the site. See for yourself if the livestream lives up to the hype.

Want more? Check out some of our favorite western webcams:

  • California's Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great selection of live web cams on different sea creatures, including sharks, penguins and sea otters. Washington's Seattle Aquarium also hosts delightful live cams of your favorite aquatic critters.
  • Denali National Park's sled dog PuppyCam is sure to put a smile on your face.
  • Skip the park entry lines by watching Old Faithful erupt virtually on Yellowstone National Park's daily livestream.
  • The San Diego Zoo hosts an incredible collection of live cams on pandas, tigers, apes, and more.
  • Watch brown bears catch fresh sockeye salmon in the wildly popular BearCam at Katmai National Park.

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

Best of the West: Oregon standoff informant revealed, firefighter dies in California, Apple's secret solar project

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Sept. 19, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

bundyarrestaAmmon BundyBundy Informant: Testimony in the Oregon standoff trial has revealed that one occupier was a government informant who aided law enforcement in the arrest of Ammon Bundy.

Wildfire Fatality: One firefighter was killed and another injured this week as 1,000 first responders battled a raging wildfire in central California. Also: see our latest Western Wildfire Update.

Wolf Trial: Lawyers for Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are in federal court Friday, Sept. 23, to see if they can overturn a 2014 decision and regain control of wolf management.

Self-Driving Cars: The same week that federal regulators unveiled new guidelines to ensure the safety of autonomous cars, self-driving Uber vehicles were spotted on the streets of San Francisco.

Secret Solar Project: Apple has released details on its secret 300-acre solar power plant in Arizona, which has the capacity to power 12,500 homes.

Conservation Legend: Pioneering wildlife scientist John Craighead has passed away in his Montana home at age 100.

IT'S NEW:Visit the website for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's Chairman's Initiative, the Western Governors' Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

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.

Gov. Bullock urges Missoula workshop attendees to take a 'hard look' at what enables successful forest management

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Gov Bullock in MissoulaGovernor Steve BullockMontana Gov. Steve Bullock urged attendees at the first workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative to "take a hard look at collaboration. What makes it succeed? Why does it fail? How do the federal land managers embrace it? It's a discussion that will set the stage and tone for more hard work to follow."

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who joined Gov. Bullock in addressing the workshop in Missoula, Mont., expressed optimism about the collaborative work of the initiative. "I have high expectations if we meet these difficult challenges together and focus on the right challenges. The more we trust in that system, the more we can get done.

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury summed up the the wide-ranging impact of the initiative in his opening remarks: "Public lands management ... sounds kind of dry and academic and bureaucratic. But what it connotes is rich and interesting and wildly important. Because when we talk land management, se're talking about nearly every activity taken on western lands."

Ogsbury also announced that the next workshop for the Chairman's Initiative will be hosted by Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on Oct. 20-21 in Boise, Idaho.

Chief Tidwell in MissoulaUSFS Chief Tom Tidwell "The work we do on these issues and the successes we’ve had are because people with very different ideologies have come together, project by project, and dollar by dollar," said Gov. Bullock, emphasizing the importance of collaboration. "Our natural resources are a foundation of our quality of life, and how we manage them must  transcend party politics."

The three addresses opened the two-day workshop (Sept. 20-21), the first of five hosted by the Western Governors' Association across the West for Gov. Bullock's central policy initiative as Chair of WGA. (Read, download an agenda) The workshops will play a central role in collecting information to position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read the Missoulian's story on the workshop and their interview with Chief Tidwell, then listen to Montana Public Radio's preview story and report on the workshop.

Watch videos of all workshop sessions by using the links below:

  • Introductory Remarks by Gov. Bullock, Chief Tidwell: James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director; Governor Steve Bullock, Montana; Tom Tidwell, Chief, US Forest Service.
  • Roundtable: The Montana Experience: Robyn King at Missoula WorkshopRobyn King, Director of Yaak Valley Forest CouncilTim Baker, Montana Governor’s Office; Bob Harrington, Montana State Forester, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC); Chas Vincent, Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition; Leanne Marten, Regional Forester, USFS Northern Region; Tom France, Senior Director, Western Wildlife Conservation, National Wildlife Federation.
  • Roundtable: What is 'Successful' Forest and Range Management? Mark Peck, Lincoln County Commissioner, Montana; Bill Imbergamo, Executive Director, Federal Forest Resource Coalition; Denny Iverson, Blackfoot Challenge; Caroline Byrd, Executive Director, Greater Yellowstone Coalition; Buddy Green, Wyoming Deputy State Director, US Bureau of Land Management.
  • Roundtable: Fire Funding Reform: Kelsey Delaney, Council of Western State Foresters; Cecilia Clavet, Senior Policy Advisor, The Nature Conservancy; Ralph Rau, John Tubbs Day 1 RecapJohn Tubbs, Director of Montana DNRCRegional Fire and Aviation Director, USFS-Region 1; Chuck Roady, General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber.
  • Roundtable: 2014 Farm Bill Tools – Status and Potential: Rich Lane, Willis Enterprises; Mo Bookwalter, DNRC-USFS Liaison; Tera Little, Farm Bill ID Team Leader, USFS; Rebecca Barnard, National Forestry Programs Manager, National Wild Turkey Federation.
  • Roundtable: Lessons Learned/Elements of Successful Collaboration: Tim Love, Montana Forest Collaborative Network; Sarah Lundstrum, National Park Conservation Association; Cassandra Moseley, Director, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, University of Oregon; Tony Colter, Plant Manager, Sun Mountain Lumber Company; Jennifer Hensiek, Missoula District Ranger, Lolo National Forest, USFS.
  • Day 1 Recap: John Tubbs, Director, Montana DNRC
  • Case Study: Westwide Collaborative Veg Project: Matt Arno, Local Government Forest Advisor, Montana DNRC; Ryan Domsalla, West Fork District Ranger, Bitterroot Dyrk KruegerDyrk Krueger, Enhanced Forest Management, presents a case study.National Forest, USFS; Dyrk Krueger, Enhanced Forest Management, Inc.; Wayne Hedman, Bitterroot Restoration Committee.
  • Case Study: Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition: Mary Mitsos, National Forest Foundation; Russ Vaagen, Vice President, Vaagen Bros Lumber Co.; Ron Gray, Wood Fuel Manager, Avista Utilities; Mike Petersen, Lands Council.
  • Case Study: Upper South Platte Restoration Partnership: Pike National Forest, Colorado: Tom Fry, Western Conservation Director, American Forest Foundation; Jonas Feinstein, State Conservation Forester, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Joseph Hansen, Conservation Forester, Jefferson Conservation District; Carol Ekarius, Executive Director, Coalition for the Upper South Platte.
  • Discussion: Tools/Solutions to Increase Pace and Scale of Restoration: Bob Harrington, DNRC; Christine Dawe, Acting Director of Forest Management, USFS; Gordy Sanders, Resource Manager, Pyramid Mountain Lumber; Dave Schulz, Madison County Commissioner, Montana.

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: Bundy trial opening statements, Oregon's 'motor voter' law success, New Mexico lands Facebook center

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Sept. 12, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

oregon standoff trial openingTrial sketch of Ammon Bundy and lawyerBundy Trial Begins: See the opening statements in the long-anticipated Oregon standoff trial and the contrasting portrayals of the defendants' intent. Also: Get highlights from each day of the trial and learn what's next here.

Motor Voter: A new Oregon law that automatically registers residents to vote when they get or renew a driver's license has powered a 14% increase in voter registrations. Oregon was the first state to put such a law into effect and California has since adopted a similar law.

Driverless Ubers: Learn how the first day of driverless Uber testing went, and see what the inside of their driverless vehicles looks like. Western Governors discussed self-driving cars during an 'Innovation in the West' panel at WGA's 2016 Annual Meeting.

Tech Giants: Facebook has selected New Mexico as the home for its new billion dollar data center. And Amazon announced plans for its largest renewable project to date, a massive wind farm in Texas that will generate enough electricity to power 90,000 households a year.

Wild Horses: Western Governors recognize that the exponential growth of wild horse and burro population levels in the West presents an urgent concern for management policy and practice. (See our resolution) Recently the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recommended that the agency consider euthanizing some of the animals. BLM Director Neil Kornze subsequently told a congressional panel the agency has no plans to follow the recommendation. Here's a good recap of the situation by E&E News (subscriber only).

IT'S NEW:Visit the website for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's Chairman's Initiative, the Western Governors' Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

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.

Livestream speeches by Gov. Bullock, USFS Chief Tidwell at Forest & Rangeland Management Workshop

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Gov Bullock at Launch Event WebsiteGov. BullockMontana Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell addressed the first workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative Sept. 20 in Missoula, Mont.

The speeches opened the two-day workshop (Sept. 20-21), the first of five hosted by the Western Governors' Association across the West for Gov. Bullock's central policy initiative as Chair of WGA. (Read, download an agenda)

The initiative, Gov. Bullock's central policy effort as chair of the Western Governors' Association, is designed to examine forest management programs and investigate collaborative forest landscape restoration. The workshops will play a central role in collecting information that will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities.

Watch livestreams of all workshop sessions by using the links below. :

Tuesday, Sept. 20

  • Welcome, Introductory Remarks: James D. Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director; Governor Steve Bullock, Montana; Tom Tidwell, Chief, US Forest Service.
  • Roundtable: The Montana Experience: Tim Baker, Montana Governor’s Office; Bob Harrington, Montana State Forester, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC); Chas Vincent, Kootenai Forest Stakeholders Coalition; Leanne Marten, Regional Forester, USFS Northern Region; Tom France, Senior Director, Western Wildlife Conservation, National Wildlife Federation.
  • Roundtable: What is 'Successful' Forest and Range Management? Mark Peck, Lincoln County Commissioner, Montana; Bill Imbergamo, Executive Director, Federal Forest Resource Coalition; Denny Iverson, Blackfoot Challenge; Caroline Byrd, Executive Director, Greater Yellowstone Coalition; Buddy Green, Wyoming Deputy State Director, US Bureau of Land Management.
  • Roundtable: Fire Funding Reform: Kelsey Delaney, Council of Western State Foresters; Cecilia Clavet, Senior Policy Advisor, The Nature Conservancy; Ralph Rau, Regional Fire and Aviation Director, USFS-Region 1; Chuck Roady, General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber.
  • Roundtable: 2014 Farm Bill Tools – Status and Potential: Rich Lane, Willis Enterprises; Mo Bookwalter, DNRC-USFS Liaison; Tera Little, Farm Bill ID Team Leader, USFS; Rebecca Barnard, National Forestry Programs Manager, National Wild Turkey Federation.
  • Roundtable: Lessons Learned/Elements of Successful Collaboration: Tim Love, Montana Forest Collaborative Network; Sarah Lundstrum, National Park Conservation Association; Cassandra Moseley, Director, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, University of Oregon; Tony Colter, Plant Manager, Sun Mountain Lumber Company; Jennifer Hensiek, Missoula District Ranger, Lolo National Forest, USFS.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Read, download the full agenda

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: Gold King Mine now a Superfund site, Yellowstone grizzly review extended, Bundy jury selection starts

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Sept. 5, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

gkm spill nprEPA Clean Up: More than a year after a 3 million gallon spill from the Gold King Mine fouled the Animas River, the Environmental Protection Agency has named the Colorado mine a Superfund site.

Grizzly Delisting: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period on the proposed rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population. The extended time is designed to allow the public to speak to the management plans passed by Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Bundy Trial: Find out how jury selection for the Oregon standoff trial is going and read a few of the reasons that nearly two-thirds of the potential jurors were sent home on day one of questioning. Also: the Bundy brothers' courtroom fashion statements.

Duckbill Collapse: Oregon police are searching for the vandals that toppled the iconic 'Duckbill' rock formation.

Yellowstone Reopens: Wildlife officials are gradually reopening the Yellowstone River after a parasite that killed more than 4,000 fish caused them to close a 180-mile stretch in Montana.

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.

Executive Director's Notebook: Guam Gov. Calvo shares 'experience of a lifetime' at Festival of Pacific Arts

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jimcalvocropJim Ogsbury and Gov. Eddie Calvo

By Jim Ogsbury

When, in the summer of 2015 at the WGA Annual Meeting at Lake Tahoe, Governor Eddie Calvo of Guam suggested that I visit his beloved home during the 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac), I was sold. I had previously committed to visit the island “Where America’s Day Begins,” so it made sense to accept the Governor’s invitation.

My expectations about FestPac, however, were limited. I assumed the event would be a modest Pacific island arts exhibition: some paintings on display, wall hangings for sale, no big deal.

Oh my heavens. What an unbelievably big deal it was.

After crossing the international dateline and arriving at the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (following an 18-hour flight from Denver), I was wiped out. I rallied, though, when the Governor’s chief of protocol met me at my arrival gate late on a Saturday night and ushered me to a car. When the driver informed me he would pick me up in a few hours to deliver me to a beach for the traditional canoe welcome and ecumenical service, it dawned on me that this was no conventional art show.

Known as the “Olympics of Pacific Arts,” the Festival of Pacific Arts is hosted every four years by a different country in the Pacific. For the 2016 edition, Guam hosted delegations from 27 island nations. Yes, the two-week extravaganza featured visual arts, but it also focused on the arts of astronomical navigation, cooking, ship-building, floral arrangement, story-telling, music, dance, body ornamentation, healing, weaving, blacksmithing, carving, theater, oratory, language, cinema, fashion and much, much more.

guamculturefestpacIn short, FestPac is about the art of life. And the denizens of the Pacific have that particular art down to a science.

The organization of the festival represented a sophisticated symphony of logistics. From the opening ceremony at Paseo Stadium (where island delegations sang, danced and presented offerings to Governor Calvo), through the scores of demonstrations, exhibitions and performances, the Guamanian hosts demonstrated extraordinary hospitality and attentiveness to detail.

Governor Calvo, the host-in-chief, could not have been more gracious or considerate. We spent a good deal of time talking about the Western Governors’ Association and current policy issues. Moreover, the Governor educated me about the history, culture, lifestyle, economy, environment and ethos of the Pacific. His pride in Guam could not be more transparent and my gratitude for his warm solicitude could not be deeper.

In addition to our love of country and appreciation for Pacific traditions, Governor Calvo and I have something else in common: we are both married to beautiful women named Christine. We are planning to meet in Hawaii with our respective Christines for FestPac 2020. Perhaps we will see you there as well. Be advised that you can expect more than a few easels and paintings. Rather, you can expect the experience of a lifetime.

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

NEA study: Western states lead art engagement, Colorado home to most artists

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artpercentagesWestern states have the top spots in the most recent arts-engagement study by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 

The NEA research, which offers a state-by-state perspective on how Americans participate in the arts, reveals that western states tend to have participation rates above the national average. In fact, the eight states with the highest percentage of adults who attended a visual or performing arts event in 2015 were all located in the West, with Utah, Colorado and Montana leading the nation. More impressive statistics from the West:

  • Colorado has the highest percentage of residents who personally perform or create artworks.
  • Utah ranks first for percentage of adults who attend live music, theater, and dance performances, and third for those who attend art exhibits.
  • Washington has the highest percentage of residents who engage in the arts through media.
  • Utah, Idaho and Colorado lead the nation in percentage of adults who go to the movies.
  • Oregon ranks second for percentage of adults who read literature.
  • Colorado ranks second in the nation for visits to historic buildings, neighborhoods and parks.

See the full study here.

Celebrate the West Art Competition LogoAdults aren't the only westerners involved in the arts. Check out a gallery of the winners from the inaugural Western Governors’ Association Celebrate the West regional art competition, which challenged high school students to create two-dimensional artwork inspired by their state. 

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

Best of the West: Google takes on Uber, Nevada's historic sage-grouse deal, Hawaii's Martian lava fields

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Aug. 29, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

carpoolwazeRide-Share Shifts: Google is taking on Uber and Lyft with a new ride-share service launching in San Francisco that uses its Waze navigation app to connect carpoolers at cheaper rates. Meanwhile, Uber has announced that it will begin free public testing of its driverless Uber cars.

Sage-Grouse Recovery: The State of Nevada and U.S. Department of the Interior have announced a historic agreement with Newmont Mining Corporation on a landscape-level sagebrush ecosystem conservation program. Also, the number of greater sage-grouse in Wyoming has increased for the third year in a row with the highest count since 2007.

hilavaspaceSpace Mission to Hawaii: NASA's "Mars Mission" crew has emerged from a yearlong simulation in Hawaii. See the Martian lava fields of the West.

Bundy Trial: Despite misgivings, a federal judge will allow Oregon standoff defendant Ryan Bundy to represent himself in court.

Western Wildlife: Watch a video of the Seattle Aquarium's adorable new star: an orphaned baby sea otter found in Olympic National Park.

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.

Report analyzes economic policy trends in Governors' State of the State addresses

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WC1.26.16The American Legislative Exchange Council has just released its annual report that reviews every economic policy proposal in each governor's State of the State address to identify developing trends in the governors' goals.

Tax relief was the chief trend that emerged from this year's survey. The report also noted that many governors discussed different policy topics which, while less directly related than tax proposals, can still significantly affect state economies, including pension reform, Medicaid, minimum wage and government efficiency. See the full report here.

WGA does a similar review of the Western Governors' State of the State addresses every year. Explore our "word cloud" (pictured) of the most common themes in the speeches, including education, healthcare, taxes and natural resources. 

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

Western Governors' News: Hawaii's billion dollar surplus, Montana's equal pay push, Washington's wildfire emergency

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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:

New Mexico Gov Susana MartinezGov. MartinezALASKA Gov. Bill Walker declared a disaster to provide state assistance for erosion and flooding threats along the Matanuska River.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey announced a program that provides taxpayers the ability to pay any back taxes owed to the state without penalty, interest or criminal prosecution.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to crack down on households practicing excessive water use during droughts.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper launched a campaign to battle underage marijuana use.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige announced that the state ended the fiscal year with a record-setting $1 billion surplus.

IDAHO Gov. Butch Otter signed a disaster declaration for the Henry's Creek Fire burning north of Idaho Falls.

KANSAS Gov. Sam Brownback announced nearly $1 million in grants for Children’s Advocacy Centers.

South Dakota Gov Dennis DaugaardGov. DaugaardMONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock, WGA Chair, signed an Executive Order incentivizing best equal pay practices for businesses that do business with the state.

NEBRASKA Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that Taiwanese trade officials intend to purchase more than $405 million Nebraska agricultural products.

NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval touted a historic agreement promoting conservation of sagebrush habitat and species in Nevada.

NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez launched a statewide early warning dropout prevention system to keep more students in school.

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Jack Dalrymple outlined an economic plan to tighten the state's budget.

Washington Gov Jay InsleeGov. InsleeOKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin unveiled the new state license plate design titled “Explore Oklahoma.”

OREGON Gov. Kate Brown directed state agencies to work together with school officials to adopt new rules on lead testing in schools.

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard, WGA Vice Chair, kicked off a campaign geared at educating high school students on the dangers of meth use.

TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott released a video update on the state’s efforts to combat the Zika virus.

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert held a luncheon to honor Utah's centenarians.

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency for 20 counties in response to multiple wildfires threatening homes, businesses, public infrastructure and natural resources.

WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead announced three initiatives to promote shooting sports across the state.

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.

Best of the West: Free National Parks admission, Bundy's 'open defiance,' Yellowstone's deadly parasite

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

glacier100Glacier National Park 100 years agoCentennial Celebration: The National Park Service is offering free admission to all 412 national parks today through Sunday (Aug. 25-28) to celebrate its 100th birthday. What did Glacier National Park look like a century ago? Explore this collection of photos.

Bundy Banned: A federal judge may bar Oregon standoff defendant Ryan Bundy from representing himself due to his "open defiance" of the court's authority.

Yellowstone's Deadly Parasite: Wildlife officials have indefinitely closed almost 200 miles of the Yellowstone River in Montana to prevent a fish parasite, estimated to have killed 20,000 whitefish, from spreading.

West Still Ablaze: Crews are battling 35 large, uncontained wildfires in the West, including one in Idaho that's threatening sage grouse habitat. See NASA's satellite images of the wildfires here.

Puppy Cam: Having a stressful day? Denali National Park's sled dog puppy webcam is sure to put a smile on your face.

Nature's Revelations: Paleontologists digging at the bottom of a cave in Wyoming have uncovered animal bones from the last ice age. Also, see the ancient petroglyphs revealed by shifting sands on Hawaii's coast and learn  how wildfires in the West have resulted in newly uncovered historic artifacts dating back thousands of years.

See last week's Best of the West.

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

Western cities boast best entrepreneurial environments, most stable housing market growth

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AustinTXAustin, TX was the top performerLooking to start your own small business? Set up shop in the West.

Western cities shined as start-up meccas in the first-ever CNBC Metro 20: America's Best Places to Start a Business. Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, led the nation for the best entrepreneurial environments, and a whopping 13 of the 20 cities to make the list were located in the West.

The report looked at 20 key criteria business owners should evaluate before choosing a business location, including: tax and regulatory climate, workforce strength, quality of life, access to capital and the cost of living. See the entire list of top cities.

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

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

Celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with free admission to all parks

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The National Park Service turns 100 on Thursday, and everyone is invited to join the celebration. With special events across the country and free admission to all 412 national parks from Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 25-28), there's no better time to find your park than the centennial.

nps centennialThe centennial celebrates the achievements of the past 100 years and kicks off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks.

You can also listen to award-winning documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan's moving keynote from our Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, in which he discusses the origins of the National Park Service and his wishes for the future of the parks. (Read about our Annual Meeting roundtable discussion of the parks, too). 

See special programs taking place across the country to help you celebrate.

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

Best of the West: Out-of-control California wildfire forces 82,000 to flee, first Oregon standoff sentencing, mysterious fish kill

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

bluecutCalifornia's Blue Cut FireWild Fires: California's out-of-control Blue Cut Fire has burned nearly 50 square miles and forced more than 82,000 residents to flee their homes. Veteran firefighters "have never seen fire behavior so extreme" and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the fast-moving wildfire, which is only 4% contained (live updates). Learn how California is cracking down on those who ignite blazes. Also: new wildfires in Oregon have prompted evacuation notices; Idaho's 80,000-acre Pioneer fire is causing air quality concerns; and trout escape wildfire threat in Utah on horseback.

Oregon Standoff Sentencing: The first defendant from the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years of prison for federal conspiracy charges.

Lake Mead Drying Up: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has predicted a water shortage in Lake Mead for 2018, resulting in cut water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada.

Evolving Eruption: Lava pouring into ocean off the coast of Hawaii over the past three weeks has created eight new acres of land. Learn how much new land has been formed from lava flows in the area in the last 30 years.

Mass Kill Mystery: Scientists are searching for the cause behind a mysterious fish kill of more than 10,000 in Yellowstone River.

See last week's Best of the West.

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

Western Governors unsatisfied with EPA state consultation process for hard rock mining financial assurances rulemaking

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Western Governors are unsatisfied with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) state consultation process for its pending financial assurance rule for the hardrock mining sectors.

The Governors' outreach on Aug. 16, 2016 to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy broadly criticized the agency's federalism assessment for its pending rulemaking under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) for the hardrock mining industry. The letter was signed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, WGA Chair, and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, WGA Vice Chair.

"Though EPA has initiated opportunities for engagement between federal, state and industry partners regarding this proposal, those opportunities have not been transparent, participatory, or collaborative," the Governors wrote. "State engagement opportunities have lacked the substantive depth necessary to alleviate concerns over potential preemption and duplication of state programs."

In order to alleviate concerns over preemption and duplication of state programs, the Governors requested that EPA provide the draft rule, model and formula for calculation of bond amounts for the hardrock mining financial assurance rule before its publication. The Governors also emphasized the importance of substantive state consultation for potential financial assurance regulation of additional industry sectors including chemical and coal manufacturing.

Read, download the comments.

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

Montana Gov. Bullock announces workshops for Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative

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Governor Bullock at Launch EventMontana Governor Steve BullockMEDIA COVERAGE: Read articles about the initiative launch from the Missoulian, the Great Falls Tribune and the Seeley Swan Pathfinder. Then watch coverage from KPAX Missoula News and ABC FOX Montana.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock launched the Western Governors’ National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on Tuesday with the announcement that the first three workshops will be held in Montana, Idaho and South Dakota.

The workshops, hosted by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), will play a central role in collecting the information that will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities.

The first workshop on Sept. 20-21 in Missoula, Mont., will include an address by Gov. Bullock and roundtable discussions by experts from across the spectrum of the issue. WGA will host five Initiative workshops in all across the West, said Gov. Bullock, who is taking on this initiative in his role as Chair of WGA. The dates for workshops in Idaho and South Dakota, as well as details on the final two workshops, will soon be available on the WGA website.

“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep workers in our forests, put more logs on trucks, and protect the public land and clean air and water that keep our heritage and economies strong,” Gov. Bullock said at the launch event, which took place at Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake, Montana.

Loren Rose at Launch EventLoren RoseThe Governor was introduced by Jim Ogsbury, WGA Executive Director. Additional remarks were offered by: Loren Rose, Chief Operating Officer, Pyramid Mountain Lumber; Jim Stone, Chair of the Blackfoot Challenge; and Dave Schulz, Madison County (Mont.) Commissioner.

“People often talk about forestry issues and the timber industry in numbers of acres, board feet and stream miles restored. We cannot forget that people do that work – people who know how to work in the woods, how to sustainably harvest trees, and how to restore our watersheds,” said Gov. Bullock.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Rose of Pyramid Lumber. “We need to collaborate on these difficult issues and come up with the best compromise.”

“These issues can’t be solved by the Governor’s work alone,” said Stone of the Blackfoot Challenge. “We all need to go to work now.”

Jim Stone at Launch EventJim StoneTo ensure wide involvement, Gov. Bullock noted that WGA will livestream each workshop of the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on the web. There also will be a series of webinars hosted by WGA, featuring experts on forest and rangeland management, to further broaden the dialogue. Video of the workshop sessions and the webinars will subsequently be available on a website dedicated to the initiative to be launched on the WGA website in the coming weeks.

The National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative will examine forest management programs for their strengths and weaknesses; create a mechanism for states and land managers to share best practices; and investigate collaborative forest landscape restoration. This process will position Western Governors to recommend and promote congressional efforts to improve forest management authorities and encourage more effective collaboration. "We can't wait for Washington, D.C. when it comes to forest health," explained Gov. Bullock.

“One of the major challenges Western states face is the difficult task of coordinating federal, state, and private lands in a responsible and sustainable manner,” said Gov. Bullock. “But I’m confident that when we all roll up our sleeves and begin to put in the hard work, our collective efforts will achieve amazing results all across our western landscape.”

Listen to Gov. Bullock's speech announcing the initiative at WGA's 2016 Annual Meeting.

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

Drought Update: California loses $600 million to drought, Lake Powell in peril

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A new studyucdavis watershed reveals that California's historic drought will cost the state $603 million in 2016 and result in the loss of 4,700 jobs.

The findings from the University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences also include:

  • The drought in 2016 will result in a 2.6 million acre-foot reduction in surface water available to agriculture.
  • This surface water loss will be partially replaced by increasing groundwater pumping by 1.9 million acre-feet, at a cost of $303 million.
  • The resulting net water shortage will cause losses of $247 million in crop revenue.
  • Direct costs to agriculture total $550 million.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2016 drought is $603 million, with a total loss of 4,700 seasonal and part-time jobs.

Although a staggering blow to the economy, the impact is far less severe than a year ago, which saw a statewide cost of $2.7 billion. The study notes that this year's wetter winter and spring helped California partially recover surface water storage and increased recharge to some aquifers. See the full report

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

  • usdm816The latest U.S. Drought Monitor reports exceptional drought in California and extreme drought in MontanaNevadaSouth Dakota and Wyoming.
  • new study finds that another drought similar to the one from 2000-2006 would empty Lake Powell.
  • Learn why experts say summer rainfall is not enough to pull Utah out of drought.
  • Find out what increased drought in South Dakota means for cow elk hunting licenses.
  • See the clever adaptations that giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada use to respond to water stress.
  • Check out the new internet-enabled water monitoring device that will track usage via smartphones.
  • California water regulators have just announced that drought conditions have improved enough to allow restrictions on hundreds of water suppliers to be lifted.

Learn more ...

Droght Forum Cover ImageRead the Western Governors' Drought Forum Report, which is arranged around seven key themes that emerged during the first year of the Forum, and view a video update.

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.

Best of the West: GM tests self-driving car in Arizona, California wildfire culprit discovered, Elon Musk's solar vision

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

cruise carAutonomous Vehicles: General Motors has joined Google by expanding the testing of its self-driving car technology to Arizona. Find out why the state has become the hottest new hub for testing and developing autonomous cars.

Wildfire Report: Officials have released a 500-page report into the cause of one of California's most destructive wildfires, the 2015 Valley Fire. See the surprising culprit behind the blaze that killed four people, sent firefighters (More)

Western Governors repeat concern over EPA decision tightening national ozone standard, due to uncontrollable factors

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epaWestern Governors have expressed concern regarding final revisions to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Exceptional Events Rule, which is now undergoing White House review.

The governors contend that EPA's decision to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone will throw areas in the West into non-attainment status owing to factors outside state control. These factors include wildfire, winter ozone, high winds and geographic factors such as high elevation.

The letter signed by the WGA Chair, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, and Vice Chair, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, was sent on Aug. 11, 2016 to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy; Howard A. Shelanski, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget; and (More)

Species Spotlight: Conservation Agreement keeps Graham’s and White River beardtongues off ESA threatened list

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GrahamsBeardtongueSmallGraham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue are perennial penstemon plant species endemic to Uintah County in eastern Utah and Rio Blanco County in western Colorado.

Graham’s beardtongue was listed as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1975, while the White River beardtongue was listed as a candidate species in 1983. A candidate species is one that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has sufficient information to propose as threatened or endangered under the ESA, but is precluded by other higher-priority listing activities.

After their original candidate listings both plants went through a cycle of delisting, and subsequent relisting, as candidate species until the FWS in 2013 proposed to list both species as threatened under the ESA. (More)

WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury gets grilled in Canadian "Q & Eh"

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cantieJim Ogsbury and Ambassador David MacNaughtonWGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury was recently selected to participate in a fun interview series with the Consulate General of Canada in Denver, the official representatives of the Government of Canada in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

"Q & Eh" is a bi-weekly interview series in which the Consulate General's team chats with individuals shaping Canada’s relationship with the U.S. Rocky Mountain Region.

Ogsbury is keenly aware of the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, as much of WGA's work in policy development, information exchange and collective action has cross-border implications. He has joined Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Consul General Marcy Grossman on a trade mission to Alberta and was recently honored to host Ambassador David MacNaughton at (More)

Best of the West: California city uses mosquitoes to battle Zika, Big Sur's big blaze doubles, Utah braces for drought

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are western stories for the week starting Aug, 1, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

mosquitozikaCounterintuitive Zika Fix: The California city of Clovis is attempting to fend off Zika by releasing 40,000 mosquitoes every week. Yes, you read that right. Learn more about the experiment here.

Wildfires Update: The massive wildfire near Big Sur doubled in size over the past week and has now consumed more than 51,000 acres. The growing blaze has resulted in one death and destroyed 57 homes. Started by an illegal campfire, the California wildfire is only 30% contained. Learn about the other major wildfires in the West, including: (More)

Executive Director's Notebook: Collaborative, productive Western Governors provide policy model for others to follow

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By Jim Ogsbury

As we head into the home stretch of a sharply partisan presidential campaign, it is comforting to know that Western Governors continue to exercise steady and reasoned leadership, putting results ahead of politics and the interests of their states ahead of partisanship. The influence of Western Governors’ continues to grow, and their bipartisan approach to collaborative problem-solving is a model for the rest of the country.

Celebrate the West JacksonThe 2016 Annual Meeting of WGA, hosted by Governor Matt Mead in Jackson, Wyoming was an unqualified success. From June 12-14, ten Governors were joined by 360 attendees for panel discussions, policy tours, association business and special events. Meeting highlights included keynote addresses by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, and historian Dayton Duncan, who spoke poignantly about the National Park System. (Hear Duncan's speech)

Governor Mead shared the results (Listen) of the first year of his signature policy effort as WGA chair, (More)

West boasts impressive array of athletes at 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio

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olympicsThe West will be well represented by athletes in Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In addition to cheering for the Red, White and Blue in Brazil, westerners have plenty of their own Olympians to root for:

  • More than 75 Olympians come from the northwestern U.S. Check out this list of the top ten to watch, including Hope Solo, star goalie for the Women's soccer team
  • The most decorated male on the U.S. roster is (More)

Stunning short films explore Grand Teton, Zion, Smoky Mountains and other National Parks

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mtjpzionHaving a stressful day? Unwind with these spectacular visual journeys through America's National Parks. More Than Just Parks is a project by two brothers who set out to document every national park with its own short film.

Watch the wonders of Grand Teton and Badlands unfold through time-lapse photography in the videos below. And then click here to virtually explore more parks, including (More)