SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — State labor officials say an increasing population and a booming economy in 2019 again spurred employment growth around Spokane. The Washington State Employment Security Department says the region covering Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties saw more than 4,600 new jobs in 2019, surpassing that mark for the fifth consecutive year. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports gains in employment, wages, population and housing occurred as the U.S. economy grew for 126 continuous months since June 2009, the longest period of economic growth in history. An economist says the region could see up to a 1.5% increase in employment growth in 2020.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Transportation Department says one of its employees died as he worked along U.S. Highway 20 in southeast Idaho. The Idaho Statesman reports 56-year-old Mark Reinke was killed Thursday when his backhoe was struck from behind by a semtractor about 5 miles outside of Arco. The semi was traveling west. Reinke was wearing a seat belt but was fatally injured. He died around 7 a.m. Reinke began working for the Idaho Transportation Department last summer. He is the 40th employee to die on the job since 1960.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's governor is in favor of removing four hydroelectric dams on the Snake River in Washington state. Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter to Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee this week, saying she believes it is the best way to increase endangered salmon runs. The Tri-City Herald reported the letter outraged Washington state’s three Republican U.S. House members, who want to keep the dams. The dams generate electricity, provide some irrigation and flood control and allow barges to operate all the way to Lewiston, Idaho. But they are also blamed for killing salmon and steelhead that are migrating to the ocean or back to their spawning grounds.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to fund 11,000 miles of strategic fuel breaks in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah in an effort to help control wildfires. Fuel breaks are intended to create breaks in vegetation that slow a blaze’s progress and help protect firefighters, communities and natural resources. The Oregonian reported Saturday that wildfires are becoming bigger and more frequent across the Great Basin states. Between 2009 and 2018, more than 13.5 million acres of BLM land burned in the project area. Some scientists debate the effectiveness of fuel breaks, raising questions about whether these efforts are worth funding.