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Best of the West: Montana's mussel emergency, Arizona lands electric vehicle factory, western Christmas trees

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

zebramusZebra MusselsMussels emergency: Gov. Steve Bullock has signed an executive order declaring the "invasion" of Montana waterways by zebra and quagga mussels an environmental emergency.

Electric Vehicles: Tesla competitor Lucid Motors has picked Arizona as the site for its $700 million electric vehicle factory, expected to employ 2000 workers.

'Tis The Season: Meet the person who picks out the Capitol Christmas tree from national forests (this year it's from Payette National Forest in Idaho). Did you know that Oregon is the biggest producer and exporter of Christmas trees of any state in the nation?

Avalanche Droids: Wyoming is deploying R2-D2 droids to spark explosions that provoke snow avalanches.

Tech Giants: Amazon has opened a checkout-free convenience store in Seattle -- shoppers just pick up what they need and payment is automated. Google announced that its data centers will run entirely on renewable energy in 2017.

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.

Species Spotlight: Protecting the gopher tortoise and its ecosystem

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gophertortThe gopher tortoise is an upland tortoise species native to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Gopher tortoise habitat consists of extensive burrows dug by the tortoise, primarily in longleaf pine forests, pastures and coastal dunes. Gopher tortoise burrows provide habitat for more than 350 other species, making the tortoise a keystone species for the ecosystems where they live.

In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) listed the gopher tortoise as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in Louisiana, Mississippi and the western portion of Alabama. In 2011, the Service determined that the gopher tortoise was a candidate for listing in the remainder of its range.

This installment of Species Spotlight examines the ongoing voluntary conservation efforts by state, federal and private partners to recover the species where it is currently listed as threatened and preclude the need to list more of its range.

CONSERVATION ACTIONS

The primary threats to the gopher tortoise include habitat loss and habitat alteration from land development. Additionally, certain forestry practices in longleaf pine forests can be harmful to gopher tortoises. Overly crowded forests and fire suppression can limit habitat and forage availability for tortoises, while site preparation for silviculture operations can destroy tortoise burrows and nests. Efforts to relocate tortoises to protected or undeveloped sites can also lead to road mortality, as gopher tortoises frequently migrate from areas where they have been relocated.

More than 80% of gopher tortoise habitat is located on private lands, making voluntary practices pivotal to the success of any conservation strategy. Numerous collaborative conservation programs encompassing federal, state, local and private parties have emerged to meet the challenge of recovering the threatened western portion of tortoise, while preventing the need to list the eastern population of the species.

In 2008, the Service entered a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) for the eastern population of gopher tortoise. The signatories of the CCA include the Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Forest Service, the fish and wildlife agencies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The 2008 CCA established a cooperative, range-wide approach to tortoise conservation and management in the eastern portion of the tortoise’s range. The CCA is flexible and voluntary, allowing individualized conservation and management actions to be adopted at varying levels by individual partners. This CCA created the foundation of the first-ever collaboratively developed range-wide conservation strategy for the gopher tortoise.

The Service also established several voluntary Safe Harbor Agreements for listed western gopher tortoises and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances in the candidate eastern range. Further, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) added the gopher tortoise as a target species of the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership. NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help producers on private land voluntarily conserve gopher tortoise habitat. Technical assistance is free to producers, and financial assistance allows producers to plan and implement a variety of conservation activities in gopher tortoise habitat such as prescribed fire, prescribed grazing, longleaf pine establishment and vegetation management.

RESULTS

Since 2012, the WLFW program has enabled producers to conserve or create more than 278,000 acres of longleaf pine forests. NRCS and state, federal and NGO partners continue to work to establish and manage longleaf pine stands, increase documentation and monitoring of gopher tortoise populations, and strategically implement landscape-scale habitat improvements for the tortoise.

The NRCS is also working with conservation partners to develop priority areas for conservation (PACs) to increase effectiveness of on-the-ground habitat conservation efforts. Through targeted conservation efforts in PACs, the Service, state wildlife agencies and NRCS are aiming to protect an additional 205,000 acres of gopher tortoise habitat by the end of fiscal year 2018.

Additional research on gopher tortoise population trends and habitat needs is necessary. It is likely that the gopher tortoise may always require some form of active habitat management to maintain a healthy population. Because of the tortoise’s status as a keystone species, work to restore gopher tortoise habitat will benefit a wide array of other species. In total, 28 additional threatened and endangered species are dependent on longleaf pine forests and will benefit from gopher tortoise conservation efforts.

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 past 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.

 

Gov. Dennis Daugaard warns against complacence, urges collaboration at Forest & Rangeland Management workshop in South Dakota

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Gov Daugaard at Deadwood Press Conference Gov. Dennis Daugaard South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard warned against complacency on the opening day of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative workshop in Deadwood.

"I'm so glad to see so much expertise here," Gov. Daugaard told attendees. "But we don’t want to use this workshop to just clap each other on the back. We want to use this to think about how to do things better."

The Governor noted the appropriateness of the two-day workshop being held in Deadwood, which earned its name from a pine beetle infestation back in the 1800s. Gov. Daugaard mentioned that the worst beetle outbreak in South Dakota history has taken place in recent years, but that the state's work with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has successfully battled the problem through active management efforts.

"Proper land management is critical," he said. "It helps control fire danger and supports economic growth and tourism. The Black Hills have been a great success story for active Mary Zimmerman on RoundtableMary Zimmerman took part in a roundtable about prescribed burnsmanagement.  Despite vibrant timbering, it is still a beautiful forest, attractive to recreationalists. And this has worked because of the great relationships developed over time between the the state and USFS."

The workshop is the third in a series hosted across the West by the Western Governors' Association for the central policy initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. (Watch previous workshops in Missoula, Mont., and Boise, Idaho.)

The initiative 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.

Here's where to watch videos from both days of the workshop:

  • Roundtable: The South Dakota ExperienceGreg Josten, State Forester, South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA); Jim Neiman, Neiman Enterprises Inc.; Karl Jensen, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts; Bob Paulson, The Nature Conservancy.
  • Roundtable: Prescribed Fire As Management ToolJeff Marlette asks a question during meetingJeff Marlette, West River Director for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, asks a questionJay Esperance, SDDA Wildland Fire Director; David Steffen, Mid Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association; Allen Rowley, USFS; Mary Zimmerman, Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board.
  • Roundtable: Co-mingled LandsRyan Brunner, Commissioner of South Dakota School and Public Lands; Dan Svingen, USFS; Lori “Chip” Kimball, BLM; Chance Davis; Eric Jennings, Hollow Valley Ranch.
  • Roundtable: Agency Culture ChallengesChristine Dawe, USFS; Mike Wood, High Ridge Leadership; Greg Josten, South Dakota State Forester; Mark Van Every, USFS, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor.
  • Case Study: Active Management and Innovative Markets: Kelsey Delaney, Council of Western State Foresters and Western Forestry Leadership Coalition; Dave Ollila, Sheep Field Specialist, South Dakota State University Extension; Jeff Parrett, Wheeler Lumber, LLC; Steve Kozel, USFS, District Ranger, Black Hills National Forest.
  • Roundtable: Strengthening Collaboration and Collaborative ProcessesBill Smith, SDDA; Craig Bobzien, USFS Black Hills National Forest Supervisor - Retired; Dave Thom, Custer Conservation District & Coordinator of the MPB Working Group; Ben Wudtke, Black Hills Forest Resource Association; Nancy Trautman, Pennington County Commissioner.

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: A Western Governor is the best choice to be Secretary of the Interior

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By Jim Ogsbury

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The installation of a new Administration naturally presents an opportunity to reset the state-federal relationship, and WGA looks forward to working with the President-elect in that endeavor.

In the meantime, WGA is urging the appointment of a sitting Western Governor to the critical cabinet post of Interior Secretary. Department of the Interior operations have disproportionate impacts on WGA member states. The jurisdictional area of the Bureau of Reclamation, for example, is entirely within our footprint. The Bureau of Land Management administers 264 million acres of public lands, the vast majority of which are located in the West. The policy issues confronted by the department -- from endangered species to water scarcity to tribal matters -- have profound and unique impacts on the West.

No one is in a better position to lead Interior than the Governor of a Western state. Western Governors work closely with departmental bureaus on a daily basis and have a deep appreciation for the challenges faced jointly by Interior and the states. Western Governors acquit themselves with honor, dignity and integrity as the chief executives of their respective states. WGA has no doubt that such an appointment would visit great credit upon the new Administration.

You can learn more about the presidential transition when the Governors convene Dec. 13-14 for their Winter Meeting in San Diego. The meeting opens with a keynote by David Eagles, the Director of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service. That address will be followed by a transition roundtable featuring the Governors.

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.

Western Governors applaud passage of National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

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USFS volunteer workThe National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Monday (Nov. 28, 2016).

Western Governors applaud this legislation, which directs the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a strategy to increase the role of volunteers and partners in National Forest System trail maintenance.

Western Governors have expressed support for the bipartisan legislation on several occasions, most recently in a letter on Sept. 21, 2016, to Representatives Cynthia Lummis and Timothy J. Walz. The letter emphasized the "urgent imperative to improve forest health in order to reduce wildfire threat and improve watersheds and habitat."

Read, download the full letter.

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

Register: Western Governors' 2016 Winter Meeting Dec. 13-14 in San Diego

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hoteldelcoro

Read about this Meeting

Western Governors’ Association Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will host his colleagues Dec. 13-14 at the WGA 2016 Winter Meeting in San Diego, Calif. Montana Gov Steve BullockGov. Steve BullocThe meeting will be held at the historic Hotel del Coronado, an architectural masterpiece that has been a must-see destination since its 1888 opening.

The Western Governors joining Gov. Bullock include: WGA Vice Chair Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Ralph Torres (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Gary Herbert (Utah), and Matt Mead (Wyoming).

Gov. Bullock will lead his fellow Western Governors in public discussions on significant issues facing the West, including rural health care challenges and his Chairman’s Initiative on forest and rangeland management.

David MacNaughton, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S., will give a keynote address on Day 1 of the meeting to highlight progress on issues of common interest between Canada and western states. David Eagles, from the Partnership for Public Service, also will deliver a keynote on the evolution of the Presidential transition. See a draft agenda.

The WGA Winter Meeting is scheduled to begin around noon on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and conclude by noon on Wednesday, Dec. 14. Register now.

Never been to a WGA meeting? Learn more about past meetings.

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: 100 million trees dead in California; Oregon tests drone air taxis; Colorado wildfire cost now $30 million

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

la me dying trees drought pg 002Dead Trees in CaliforniaDying Forests: The number of dead trees in drought-stricken California has risen to an 'unprecedented' 102 million.

Drone Taxis: An Oregon company has landed a contract with Airbus to test its self-piloted flying vehicles.

Wildfire Burns Budgets: The cost of battling the 60-square-mile Beaver Creek Fire in Colorado and Wyoming has reached $30 million. The blaze, which started in June, is still smoldering. See the Western Governors' recent letter urging timely Congressional action to end the destructive wildfire funding practice of “fire borrowing."

Winter Is Coming (and that's good): Winter bookings at mountain resorts in California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming are still up over last year despite the recent lag in snowfall.

Eclipse Chasers: You might have a tough time catching next year's solar eclipse in Oregon. Every one of the 1,200 Oregon state park campsites in the eclipse's Path of Totality booked up within an hour of being made available online.

See last week's Best of the West.

Find out the 2016 Election results for Western Governors in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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

Livestream speech by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, all sessions of Forest & Rangeland Management workshop in South Dakota

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South Dakota Gov Dennis DaugaardGovernor Dennis DaugaardSouth Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard will address the next workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on Dec. 1 in Deadwood, S.D.

The two-day (Dec. 1-2) workshop is the third in a series hosted across the West by the Western Governors' Association for the central policy initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. (Learn more and watch sessions from the previous workshops in Missoula, Mont., and Boise, Idaho.)

The initiative 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.

Here's where to find the livestreams for all workshop sessions (all times MT): 

THURSDAY, DEC. 1

FRIDAY, DEC. 2

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

Western Governors' News: Nevada hydropower celebration; New Mexico tourism record; South Dakota teacher pay boost

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

Nevada Gov Brian SandovalGov. SandovalALASKA Gov. Bill Walker bolstered the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, a top priority for his administration.

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order to help curb opioid addiction.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown announced new precision medicine projects to prevent and better treat diseases through advanced computing.

COLORADO Gov. John Hickenlooper promoted cyber safety at the kickoff event for the National Cybersecurity Center.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige directed state efforts to increase opportunities and support for the employment of people with disabilities.

IDAHO Gov. Butch Otter led a trade mission to China to expand opportunities for Idaho businesses and industries.

New Mexico Gov Susana MartinezGov. MartinezMONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock, WGA Chair, released a budget proposal designed to grow the state's economy and create more good-paying jobs.

NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval celebrated the 80th anniversary of hydropower from the Hoover Dam serving the state.

NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez announced the sixth straight record-breaking year for economic impact of tourism in the state.

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Jack Dalrymple celebrated the completion of the new University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences building.

OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin touted the state's progress in recruiting and retaining quality foster parents.

South Dakota Gov Dennis DaugaardGov. DaugaardOREGON Gov. Kate Brown highlighted workforce development partnerships and transportation priorities in Southern Oregon.

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard, WGA Vice Chair, announced that his Blue Ribbon education funding package is increasing teacher salaries by nearly 12%.

TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott helped unveil the Texas African American History Memorial at the State Capitol.

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert formed an exploratory committee to drive the development of an inland port in the state.

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee doubled the number of cost-saving electric vehicles in the state motor pool.

WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead created the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) Initiative to expand the state economy.

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: Montana wildfire drones; Colorado's unique jet fuel; grizzlies closer to delisting

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

roaringlionfireRoaring Lion Fire damageWildfire Tech: The Roaring Lion fire in Montana marked the first time that drones were employed in wildfire monitoring. Also: See the Western Governors' recent letter urging timely Congressional action to end the practice of “fire borrowing” used by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior.

Forest-Powered Flight: Alaska Airlines flew a commercial jet from Seattle, Washington, to our Nation's Capital using fuel that a Colorado company made from wood scraps.

Powering the Cloud: Microsoft has signed its largest wind-power purchase to date, with Wyoming and Kansas, to power one of its data centers.

Grizzly Delisting Developing: Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem are a step closer to being removed from the federal endangered species list following conservation strategy approval.

Environmental Watchdogs: Find out how Montana is using dogs to sniff out invasive mussel species.

See last week's Best of the West.

Find out the 2016 Election results for Western Governors in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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

Drought Update: One third of U.S. living with drought; Great Salt Lake turns pink

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fulldroughtmonThe U.S. Drought Monitor shows that drought is impacting one in three Americans this fall.

This season has seen drought scorch crops, fuel wildfires and force strict water conservation across the country as the West, South and Northeast all grapple with extreme conditions. In total, about 130 million Americans are currently living in drought-stricken areas. More

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.

  • There IS some good drought news: For the first time since spring of 2013, a quarter of California is drought-free.
  • Montana is revising its drought management plan and taking public comment on draft proposals.
  • Learn how Oregon's record drought has taken a toll on the state’s conifer trees.
  • State officials are studying the success rate of California’s $350 million campaign to turn residents' tastes away from water-slurping lawns.
  • Find out how drought has beached boats and turned the water pink in Utah’s Great Salt Lake.
  • New research warns that the southwestern U.S. could face a 'mega-drought' by the end of the century that would dwarf the historic California drought.

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 included regional workshops that gathered 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.

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

Western Governors urge Congress: Make end to 'fire borrowing' top priority

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wildfirehcWestern Governors have urged timely action by Congress to end the practice of “fire borrowing” used by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to fund wildfire suppression activities.

"We strongly urge Congress to resolve this enduring issue as among its highest priorities when it returns to complete the business of the 114th Congress," the Governors stated in a letter sent Nov. 15, 2016, to Representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi and Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.

Fire borrowing is a budgetary practice that occurs when federal agencies divert funds from forest health and fire prevention programs to fight wildfires. 

The Governors go on to highlight how the current funding situation has allowed wildfires to burn through crippling amounts of the very funds that should instead be used to prevent fires. The result is "an unacceptable set of outcomes for taxpayers and at-risk communities."

The outreach also references the Governors' policy resolution, National Forest and Rangeland Management, and the current WGA Chairman’s Initiative, the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

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.

Best of the West: Old Faithful investigation, Hawaiian Mars experiment, Snake River dam debate reopened

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

oldfaithsciYellowstone National ParkOld Faithful Science: Scientists are mapping the plumbing in Yellowstone National Park to find out why it’s so explosive.

Mission to Mars: Find out why NASA's search for life on Mars begins in Hawaii.

Dam Debate: A federal judge's order has revived the Snake River dam debate, and now agencies must take a new look at managing the Washington dams to save wild salmon runs.

Drought Nation: Large parts of the southeastern U.S. are struggling with drought, while 11 western states are still experiencing severe drought.

World Series Impacts: Find out why Gov. Doug Ducey says that the Cubs' World Series win is a great boost for Arizona's economy.

See last week's Best of the West.

Find out the 2016 Election results for Western Governors in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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

WATCH: National Forest & Rangeland Management Initiative Webinar: The Future of Wild Horse & Burro Management

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The Western Governors' Association hosted a webinar on Nov. 10 as part of its series for the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative

The Future of Wild Horse and Burro Management: Challenges and Opportunities examined the economic and environmental impacts of wild horses and burros on western rangelands and rangeland dependent communities. Panelists also discussed the challenges associated with responsible and humane management of horses and burros on public lands and possible solutions to ballooning wild horse and burro populations.

The moderator wasU.S. Representative Chris Stewart (UT-2). The panelistsKathleen Clarke, Director, Utah Public Lands Coordinating Office; JJ Goicoechea, Eureka County Commission Chair, Eureka County, NV; Callie Hendrickson, Executive Director, White River & Douglas Creek Conservation Districts in Rio Blanco County, CO; Tammy Pearson, Commissioner, Beaver County, UT; Dr. Eric Thacker, Professor of Wildland Resources, Utah State University.

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 a recording of other Chairman's initiative webinars:

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

2016 Election results for Western Governors in Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington

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Montana Gov Steve BullockGov. Bullock

Elections were held for five Western Governors on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The results:

Montana: Gov. Steve Bullock was re-elected, defeating Greg Gianforte. "It may be a challenging time in this experiment called representative democracy, what with the toxicity," said Gov. Bullock. "But I'm optimistic that our leaders, Democrats and Republicans, still rise above that toxicity to demonstrate to those that we represent that we're individually and we're collectively better than that." Story

North Dakota: Doug Burgum defeated Marvin Nelson to earn the governorship, which came open when Gov. Jack Dalrymple decided not to run for re-election. “It’s imperative as a state and as a nation we come together and look forward," Burgum said after his victory.” Story

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown defeated Bud Pierce. "I believe that the times call upon us to take action, and I believe that if we work together we can shape both the place and the times in which we live," Gov. Brown said. Story

Oregon Gov Kate Brown Official PortraitGov. BrownUtah: Gov. Gary Herbert was re-elected, defeating Mike Weinholtz. "It's going to take focus and coming together to raise the bar on education, and I believe that's something we can do over these next four years," said Gov. Herbert. Story

Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee was re-elected, defeating Bill Bryant. “We are a confident and optimistic state, and we will remain so while I am governor," said Gov. Inslee. Story

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

Colorado, Utah cities top Forbes 'Best Places For Business And Careers' list; Gov. Ducey predicts economic boost from Cubs win

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dtdenverskyDenver, ColoradoDenver and Provo topped the 18th annual Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers rankings. 

The Colorado capital nabbed the number one spot for the second consecutive year due to its 'diverse economy, growth outlook and educated workforce,' according to the rankings. The Utah city was lauded for the "fastest job growth last year among the 200 largest metro areas."

In all, seven western cities made the Top 10 and three of the coveted spots were in Utah. (See full rankings). Not into big city living? Check out the Forbes Best Small Places for Business and Careers list. It's led by Bend, Oregon.

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

  • Find out why Gov. Doug Ducey says that the Cubs' World Series win is a great boost for Arizona's economy.
  • The Brookings Institution named cities in California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington as international 'Knowledge Capitals' for their innovative and productive workforces.
  • Montana led the nation for percentage increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015.
  • Texas is home to the three best real-estate markets in a recent WalletHub list. See all nine western cities in the Top 10.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a memorandum of understanding with British Columbia to create regional economic opportunities for innovation in the technology sector.
  • Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska have the best business tax climates in the nation, according to The Tax Foundation's annual index.
  • California had to largest year-over-year job gains, while Oregon showed the largest year-over-year percentage gains.
  • Colorado ranked second in the U.S. for turning science and technology capabilities into high-paying jobs.

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 brothers 'continue to stand' in Nevada; rare grizzly sighting; sage-grouse fire plan

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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. 31, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

bundybrosmugacqRyan and Ammon BundyBundy Brothers: "We will continue to stand," Ammon Bundy vowed before he and his brother Ryan were moved this week to a Nevada jail to await trial for their roles in a 2014 armed standoff near the family ranch. The Bundy family has warned of another standoff following the acquittal for their roles in this year's Oregon standoff.

Wind Energy: See the seven western states that generated at least 10% of their electricity from wind in the last year and are leading the nation in wind energy production.

Montana Wildlife: See photos of a rare gathering of 13 grizzly bears in Montana. Also: A disease outbreak has killed at least 37 bighorn sheep on the National Bison Range.

Book Tour: Check out this '50 States of Literature' infographic to see which book represents your state. How many of them have you read?

Rangeland Fires: The U.S. Department of the Interior has released a new rangeland fire science plan that addresses sage-grouse and sagebrush conservation and restoration. Western Governors are also addressing rangeland management issues through the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

See last week's Best of the West.

WGA will host a webinar on Nov. 10 as part of its series for the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative, the central policy effort of WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. The webinar, The Future of Wild Horse & Burro Management, will examine the economic and environmental impacts of wild horses and burros on western rangelands and rangeland dependent communities. Register now.

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

Western Governors call for state involvement in establishing nuclear waste management system

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DOE logo nukeWestern Governors emphasized the importance of state involvement in the siting of any radioactive waste storage or disposal facility in outreach to Office of Nuclear Energy Acting Assistant Secretary John Kotek.

The comments sent Oct. 31, 2016, address input received by the Department of Energy (DOE) regarding design of a consent-based process to establish an integrated waste management system to transport, store and dispose of commercial spent nuclear fuel and high-level defense radioactive waste.

In the comments, which included the Governors' policy resolution Storage and Disposal of Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel, the Governors "strongly encourage" DOE to work cooperatively with the states to implement a policy that ensures the safe transportation, storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste.

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.

Executive Director's Notebook: Western Governors are tops in meaningful policy work

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By Jim Ogsbury

It’s official: through WGA, Western Governors are now developing and pursuing the most meaningful, detailed and substantive policy agenda of any bipartisan association of elected officials in the country. Well, maybe it isn’t official, but it is true. Consider, for example, this small sample of WGA policy efforts in recent months.

Jeremy Maestas NRCS with cheatgrassJeremy Maestas of NRCS discussed the threat posed by cheatgrass at the Idaho workshop of the Chairman's InitiativeNational Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative: The Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Governor Steve Bullock is off to an outstanding start. Two regional workshops already have been held, hosted by Gov. Bullock in Missoula and Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in Boise. The next workshop, to be hosted by Vice Chair and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, is scheduled for Dec. 1-2 in Deadwood.

Environmental Protection: WGA provided comments to the Environmental Protection Agency and met with the Office of Management and Budget to convey the concerns of Western Governors regarding the agency’s concentrated air quality standards for ozone and proposed revisions to the agency’s exceptional events rule. WGA also submitted formal comments to EPA on its prospective establishment of hard rock mining financial assurance requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

Land Management: I appeared before subcommittees of both the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to testify as to Western Governors’ concerns surrounding the proposed Planning 2.0 rule of the Bureau of Land Management. WGA also submitted testimony regarding the wild horse and burro problem on public lands to the House Natural Resources Committee and communicated the need for Congressional action to "simplify and expedite" federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes.

Western Governors are pursuing a raft of other projects. Those include Year Two of the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative of WGA’s immediate past chairman, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, and the launch of a West-wide Invasive Species Inventory and Data Management Protocols Project.

It is because of the Governors’ collaborative work, personal engagement and measured leadership that WGA has acquired a reputation as a singularly effective bipartisan association of elected officials. It remains a privilege of the highest order to serve them, and I thank them for their leadership.

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.

Best of the West: All Oregon standoff defendants not guilty, millions of western homes in fire risk

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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. 24, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

judgebrownjurorFederal Judge Anna BrownA federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Oregonian reported. (Story)

The Los Angeles Times reported that "the defeat for the prosecution was especially unexpected because three of the seven defendants had chosen to represent themselves during the trial. Critics of the occupation said the verdict might embolden similar actions by right-wing anti-government groups in the future." (Story)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement that she respected the jury's verdict, even if she didn't agree. The Governor also expressed support for Burns, a town near the refuge that acted as ground zero as hundreds of people descended on the area earlier this year, as well as the communities of Harney County.

"The occupation of the Malheur refuge by outsiders did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences," she said. (Story)

Wildfire Risk: A new report shows that nearly 2 million homes across 13 western states are at “extreme or high risk” of damage from wildfires, with a total cost to repair approaching $500 billion. See Western Governors' policies to help keep the region safe from wildfires here.

Milestone Beer Run: Uber’s self-driving truck has made its first delivery -- 50,000 beers in Colorado.

Deadly Parasite Spreads: The parasite that killed tens of thousands of fish and caused closures in the Yellowstone River this summer has been found in seven more Montana rivers.

Yellowstone Bison Genes: Researchers are transplanting embryos from Yellowstone National Park’s wild bison to help restore Minnesota herds.

See the previous Best of the West.

WGA just 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.

Western Governors call for expedited state-federal land exchange process

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Western Governors have re-emphasized the need for Congressional action to "simplify and expedite" the federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes.

In letters sent on Oct. 26, 2016, to Senators Jeff Flake and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis, the Governors express appreciation for efforts to advance the Advancing Conservation and Education Act, which would facilitate state-federal land exchanges.

The Governors praise the land exchange process developed in the Act as "an important step" toward the goal of "consolidating federal and state land holdings so that western states can realize value for the lands granted to them in trust."

Read, download the letters. 

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

Ward Scott joins WGA as policy advisor for water and agriculture

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wsj headshot try 2Ward ScottThe Western Governors' Association is pleased to announce the hiring of Ward Scott as Policy Advisor for Water and Agriculture.

Ward will manage a portfolio of regulatory, legislative and in-region water management and quality issues, as well as the ongoing work of the Western Governors' Drought Forum.

The Illinois native earned his J.D. and LL.M. in Natural Resources and Environmental Law and Policy from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He has worked in the private energy sector and on natural resource and land use issues for private law firms. When he's not working on policy, Ward manages the Fiddler Creek Ranch in Fishtail, Mont.

Find out how to connect with Ward and meet the rest of the WGA staff, on our Contact page.

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

Western Governors request 'substantive' consultation on ESA compensatory mitigation

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2000px US FishAndWildlifeService Logo.svgWestern Governors have requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) engage in "substantive and ongoing consultation" with Governors and state regulators in regard to the draft Endangered Species Act Compensatory Mitigation Policy.

The comments delivered on Oct. 17, 2016, to FWS Director Dan Ashe specifically seek clarity around landscape-scale compensatory mitigation in the West and the definition of “net conservation gain.”

The Governors remind that they have management responsibility for all fish and wildlife within their states’ borders and that "moreover, because of their close working relationships with local governments and landowners, they are in a unique position to assist the Service in implementing the ESA."

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.

Work continues in year two of Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative

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Gov Mead Speaking Hi ResGov. Matt Mead at the launch of his Chairman's InitiativeThe Western Governors’ Association has launched the second year of the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative, the 2016 Chairman's Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

During the coming year WGA will organize a series of work sessions and webinars that expand on the bipartisan dialogue of the Initiative’s first year. In addition, WGA encourages stakeholders from across the spectrum of this issue to offer recommendations to further refine key themes from year one.

WGA welcomes that input by use of this questionnaire, which covers topics presented in year-one workshop breakout sessions, panel discussions and questionnaire responses. You're encouraged to respond to questions in detail, adding supplemental attachments as necessary. Once complete, send the completed questionnaire to Zach Bodhane This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Note: Questionnaires will be used for WGA internal purposes only.)

Those with additional questions about year two of the Initiative may also 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.

Gov. Otter pushes for high-value solutions to forest, rangeland issues at Idaho workshop of Chairman's Initiative

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Gov Otter at WGA Boise WorkshopGovernor OtterCollaboration was the centerpiece of Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's message to attendees at the second workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

The Governor cited the creation of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) in Idaho as an example. Before 2012 it was illegal for ranchers to fight fires. The Governor, legislature, and federal and state fire agencies subsequently created the RFPAs, which have now grown to eight districts with nearly 300 voluntreers overseeing more than 7 milion acres.

Gov. Otter also emphasized finding projects of value on which to collaborate. "People talk to me all the time about the cost of doing things and I understand cost. But when someone comes to me and explains the value of something, that really gets my interest. So I want you all to discuss all of your ideas for improving land management and let's find those with the greatest value."

Jim Lyons, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management, also Jim Lyons WGAJim Lyonsdiscussed collaboration's role in blunting the impact of wildfires and invasive species, noting "these are not public land issues or private land issues; they are resource issues that know no political or administrative boundaries."

And Lyons reminded the audience of the reason why this work is so important: "Research has shown that healthy landscapes are more resilient to the impacts of climate, drought and fire. Healthy landscapes improve habitat and connectivity, reducing the risks that species become threatened or endangered."

Jeremy Maestas at WGA Jeremy Maestas of NRCSThe speeches opened the two-day (Oct. 20-21) workshop, the second of five hosted by the Western Governors' Association across the West for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's central policy initiative as Chair of WGA. (Read, download Boise agenda) WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury announced that the next workshop will be hosted by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Dec. 1-2 in Deadwood, S.D.

Look below to find links to watch videos of all workshop sessions:

Read, download the agenda

Register now for WGA's 2016 Winter Meeting Dec 13-14 in San Diego, Calif. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Livestream speeches by Idaho Gov. Otter, Interior’s Jim Lyons at Forest & Rangeland Management workshop in Boise

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Idaho Gov Butch OtterGov. C.L. "butch" OtterIdaho Gov. C.L. "Butch Otter and Jim Lyons, Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management, addressed the second workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative on Oct. 20 in Boise, Idaho.

The two-day (Oct. 20-21) workshop was the second of five hosted across the West by the Western Governors' Association for the central policy initiative of WGA Chair and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. (Learn about the previous workshop in Missoula, Mont.)

The initiative 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 videos of all workshop sessions by using the links below. 

Register now for WGA's 2016 Winter Meeting Dec 13-14 in San Diego, Calif. 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 criminal charge decision, wind jobs blowing up, lumber deal collapses

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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. 10, 2016, that you don't want to miss:

epa1013storyGold King Mine spill No Gold King Mine Charges: Federal authorities have announced that no criminal charges will be filed against a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee over last year's 3-million gallon Gold King Mine spill.

Booming Profession: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that technicians who maintain and fix wind turbines will be the fastest growing profession in the U.S. in the next decade.

Timber Deal Collapse: The U.S.-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement has expired without a replacement after a year’s “stand-still” period for renegotiation. See the potential effect this could have on lumber prices.

Bundy Trial: Legal experts weigh in on whether Ammon Bundy's 10-hour testimony helped or hurt his case in the Oregon standoff trial. Also: read the rare trial exchange between the Bundy brothers and learn how the occupation has boosted tourism for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Historic Event: A California condor chick has hatched in the wild, survived and flown out of its nest at Pinnacles National Park for the first time since the 1890s.

See last week's Best of the West.

WGA just 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.

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.