Best of the West: California quake’s destructive mystery; regional internet lags; dinosaur dispute

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting July 8, 2019 that you don't want to miss.

The earthquakes that rocked Southern California on July 4-5 were the strongest in that area over the past 20 years, The Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities are even investigating if the quake killed a man 180 miles away in Nevada.

Thousands of aftershocks have since been recorded, including a magnitude 4.5 earthquake on Wednesday (July 10) outside Olancha, Calif. Scientists are expecting more than 30,000 aftershocks over the next six months. The damage to the earth’s crust is so significant, that it is visible in a kaleidoscopic satellite image (above) released by NASA.

The Times reports that after the major temblors, California “structural engineers descended on Ridgecrest (the city closest to the epicenter) expecting to study destruction from the quake … but found relatively little.” Learn why that’s the case and why it’s not necessarily good news for the rest of the state.

Slow Going: A report by shows some of the country's slowest internet speeds are in the West. Western Governors are working on solutions to the issue, recently hosting a roundtable (Connecting the Rural West) at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Colorado and sharing policy addressing broadband deployment for the House hearing “Building Opportunity in Rural America through Affordable, Reliable and High-Speed Broadband.” Connectivity also is a central pillar of  Reimagining the Rural West Initiative, the central policy effort of WGA Chair and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Are dinosaurs a mineral? That’s the question at the heart of a lawsuit before the Montana Supreme Court, which is trying to determine who owns some of the greatest fossil finds in the last century, including two dinosaurs preserved while locked in combat. Paleontologists say the ruling would have "fundamental and extraordinary impacts upon the conduct of science concerning the history of life on Earth." Learn more.

From Ranch to Park: Crazy French Ranch, all 19,200-acres of it, dominates the landscape around the southern Colorado town of Trinidad. The Colorado Sun reports it soon could also dominate the local economic landscape “thanks to a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership that promises to recast the economic future of boom-bust Trinidad.” Find out who’s making it happen.

When rain means fire: A wet spring across the West has been cause for optimism when assessing the coming wildfire season. But that rain also resulted in a "massive bloom of cheatgrass," reports Stateline reporter Sophie Quinton, which could fuel major rangeland wildfires. Cheatgrass was one of many issues addressed in the Special Report of the Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initaitive.

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