Best of the West: Drought at 20-year low, costly storm pulverizes Colorado, genetic rescue mission

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting May 8, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Drought levels across the country are the lowest in almost 20 years, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

A series of significant storms this winter and spring contributed mightily to the decline and built healthy snowpack levels across the West, especially in Washington and Montana. “To see the changes we have in the last year, especially out West, it does astonish me,” said a representative with the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center.

Hail of a Mile High Storm: The storm that hit the Denver area on Monday, May 8, may wind up being one of the costliest on record for Colorado. Hailstones the size of golf balls were recorded, smashing windshields and skylights at a mall, as well as causing extensive flooding and damage. Flooding also continues to impact California, as its record snowpack melts and prompts flood warnings in Yosemite National Park.

Sage-Grouse Switch: A group of bi-state greater sage grouse have been relocated from California to Nevada in an effort to save dwindling populations of the bird near the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Watch a video produduced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about this “genetic rescue” mission. Learn about a similar partnership to relocate sage grouse from Wyoming to North Dakota.

Recreation Recognition: The National Recreation and Park Association has announced finalists for the 2017 Gold Medal Award, which honor community excellence in planning, resource management and innovative approaches to park services delivery. Of the finalists, 14 are located in western states; winners will be announced this fall. Meet the finalists.

Governors in the News: Western Governors are making headlines by announcing STEM grants, implementing an education initiative, and hosting an economic summit. Get the latest updates on recent accomplishments by governors in our roundup.

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