Best of the West: Happiness abounds regionally; moth mayhem in Kansas; multi-state forest management project; Woman with ALS scales Colorado’s highest peak

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on the latest news in the West. Here are the top stories for the week starting Sept 13, 2021. (Photos courtesy of Out There Colorado and The Pennsylvania Department of Agirculture) 

Where are the happiest states in the country?

Look West, suggests WalletHub, which just released a survey of all 50 states using 31 metrics – ranging from depression rates and positive COVID-19 rates, to income growth and the unemployment rates – that psychologists say are linked to a person’s overall well-being and satisfaction with life. 

Utah topped the list on the strength of No. 1 rankings in the work environment category, as well as the community and environment category. Overall, six of the top ten happiest states are in the West. Four of the top five states with the highest income growth, the lowest long-term unemployment rates and the highest sports participation rates were also located in the West. Three western states also ranked in the top five for volunteer rates and adequate sleep rates. See how your state ranked.   

MOTH MAYHEM: Officials recently judging 4-H entomology entries in Kansas discovered that one display included an invasive moth known as the spotted lanternfly that was not previously known to exist in the state. The moth, which prevents plants from photosynthesizing by depositing honeydew excretions that grow mold and cause the plants to die, has previously prompted quarantines in 45 counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Fortunately, this one was not alive, but its presence prompted a federal investigation to determine how it entered the Sunflower State. For more information about combating invasive species, read and download WGA’s Western Governors’ Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative Report, which highlights efforts to confront the challenge of nuisance species and pests on western ecosystems. 

COLLIGATE CONSISTENCY: Carroll College in Montana received national recognition for the 11th year in a row, ranking as the best regional college in the West in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges in the Nation 2022. A release from Carroll College reports it garnered a perfect overall score of 100 among 1,400 schools. See how other western colleges and universities were graded.  

FOREST MANAGEMENT: The Nature Conservancy and the BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group have reached an agreement to jointly apply forest management practices on more than 500,000 acres of forest owned by private investors in 11 states. Learn how Western Governors are seeking to improve cross-boundary land management and replicate similar agreements via the Working Lands, Working Communities Initiative

SUMMIT DREAMS: Despite being diagnosed with ALS in 2019, Christine Gilmore recently summitted Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado at 14,433 feet, using an adaptive wheelchair. She was even able to walk the last few steps to the summit with the aid of her husband and other volunteers. Read her inspiring story

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