Best of the West: Solar energy surging in western states; BLM releases interactive climbing maps; how public lands boost rural economies

Energy, The West

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting June 17, 2019 that you don't want to miss.

Solar energy development continues to rise across the West. California, home to the world’s largest operating solar thermal energy plant, recently set a record for the most solar power flowing on the state’s main electric grid.

Nevada is climbing to the top of the list for solar energy installation in the country, ranking third-highest in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2019, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

A Utah county is considering tax breaks for a company proposing to build a nearly 2,000-acre solar farm, and Gov. Gary Herbert recently announced a clean energy power storage facility will be built in the state, becoming the world’s largest site of its kind.

In Colorado, solar installations increased 19% in the first three months of the year. The state is eager to increase renewable energy production to meet ambitious goals outlined by Gov. Jared Polis, but for now, its grid may not be equipped to handle the challenge.

Outdoor Adventures: The Bureau of Land Management has released a series of interactive maps to promote outdoor recreational activities such as rock climbing on public lands. Developed in partnership with Access Fund and Mountain Project, the new maps provide information on BLM-managed climbing areas through a centralized online tool. View the maps.

Under the Sea: A team of scientists led by Arizona State University researchers has developed technology to map difficult-to-reach coral reefs. The innovative technology effectively “peels back” seawater, which can impair satellite and airborne camera imaging, and allows for more detailed analysis of underwater terrain. 

How Public Lands Influence Local Economies: Public lands, ranging from federally protected areas to community trails, boost local economies according to Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman-based research group. To understand how landownership is divided in the U.S., the group recently released detailed county-level maps. View a map of the West.  

Keeping History Afloat: For almost 90 years, the Glacier Park Boat Co. in Montana has ferried passengers on its fleet of historic cedar-planked boats. Learn how a small, family-owned crew maintains the vessels, and more on the fascinating history of the park.

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

sign up for our newsletters