Best of the West: Hawaii confronts tree fungus; Colorado’s outdoor rec plan; Wyoming wind energy to double

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Dec. 31, that you don't want to miss. Image: Hawaii Department of Natural Resources

Rapid Ohia Death, a fungus impacting Hawaii’s most abundant native tree, is spreading throughout the state. First detected in 2015, the disease has already killed hundreds of thousands of mature trees.  And now a more aggressive strain of the pathogen has been discovered on Kauai, prompting a swift response from the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

Within a day of learning the news, we scheduled a helicopter to conduct more digital mobile sketch mapping to identify any additional symptomatic trees," said Sheri S. Mann, Kauai District Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

At the fourth and final workshop of the Western Governors’ Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative hosted by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a panel of local experts discussed lessons learned from the management response to the disease. Watch the session to learn more about tools and strategies in development to address the challenge.

Mapping the Future: Colorado released a five-year outdoor recreation plan, which identifies priorities regarding sustainable access, stewardship, conservation and the economy. Outdoor recreation generates more than $62 billion annually in the Centennial State, and supports nearly a fifth of its labor force.

Blowing in the Wind: Wind energy capacity will more than double in Wyoming upon the completion of a series of planned projects. After plateauing for several years, an uptick in development will capitalize on the state’s standing as the 7th highest for wind capacity potential in the country. 

Powering Up: Electric vehicles could become less expensive and go farther on a single charge, thanks to a solid-state battery company in Colorado. Solid Power is designing smaller, longer-lasting batteries than the current industry standard lithium-ion batteries, and should begin production this year.

Audio Upgrade: Getting stuck on hold may not be such a bad thing in Alaska, where state offices are now playing local bands instead of dull hold music. State representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins spearheaded the initiative, which aims to “reflect the people and culture” of Alaska.  

2018 Top 10 for WGA: As Western Governors become increasingly effective, it's not easy to condense their annual accomplishments. But WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury has done a great job doing just that in his 2018 Top Ten list of Western Governors' accomplishments, projects and activities.

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