WGA Annual Meeting Day 3: New Chairman Gov. Bullock announces Forest Initiative, Governors release policy resolutions

Western Governors elected Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Chairman and approved seven policy resolutions on the final day of the 2016 Annual Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Outgoing WGA Chairman, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, passed the gavel to Gov. Bullock, who will be joined by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard as Vice Chair. Additionally, Gov. Bullock announced that his signature policy effort as WGA Chairman will focus on improving forest and rangeland management. Learn more here.

"We’ve made great strides in Montana with our ‘Forests in Focus’ initiative. Other western states are trying different approaches, and I look forward to hearing about them from my colleagues and other stakeholders, and charting a course for improving the health of our forests and public lands," said Gov. Bullock.

"This will not be an easy task, and will require folks from all walks of life and all political leanings to be willing to engage in a productive dialogue. And I can’t think of a better group to engage in this discussion than Western governors."

Policy Resolutions: Western Governors also formally approved seven new policy resolutions on land exchanges, invasive species, wildfires, abandoned mines, species conservation, energy development, and National Parks. 

2016 Annual Report: WGA released its 2016 Annual Report illuminating the many regional policy issues Western Governors worked on in the past year. Read, download report.

Highlights from the day's sessions at the Snow King Resort:

Roundtable: New Western Economic Frontiers

Governors and panelists highlighted public and private entities successfully diversifying to deliver a more predictable economic framework in the West:

  • Kelly StowellExecutive Director, Center for Education, Business, and the Arts (CEBA), Kanab, Utah: "We are noticing a shift. The industrial revolution is over and we are truly living in a global economy. We have to realize that we are no longer just competing economically with neighboring states and cities, we are competing on the global scale."
  • William SymondsDirector, Global Pathways Institute, and Professor of Practice, Arizona State University: "Students are being saddled with debt and finding under-employment. We need to focus on career development and help kids focus on all of the opportunities out there that do not necessarily require a traditional four-year degree."
  • George (Skip) NoeCity Manager, Aurora, Colorado: "The economic impact of the Fitzsimons project is $5.6 billion. That's larger than the Colorado ski industry. We have over 21,000 employees."
  • Gov. Butch Otter: "The economic boom years are great, but the bust years can be truly devastating to our communities. We need to look to diversify our economic portfolios to avoid the worsts of these bust years. This is not easily achieved. It requires hard work, vision, elbow grease and sometimes a bit of luck."
Governors' Roundtable: The Next Big Thing in the West

The Governors shared significant ongoing projects in their states:

  • Gov. Butch Otter: "We're going to really prioritize STEM education with new funding, educator training, and student programs."
  • Gov. Steve Bullock: "The idea of Habitat Montana is to expand opportunities to world-class hunting and fishing through land access and acquisition."
  • Gov. Brian Sandoval: "Nevada was the first state to put together a regulatory structure to allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles."
  • Gov. Dennis Daugaard: "South Dakota is honored to host one of the premier underground science facilities in the world," which is involved in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment.
  • Gov. Matt Mead: "Our X Prize competition will challenge innovators to transform carbon dioxide from a liability into an asset."

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