36 Craft Beverage Businesses Urge Colorado Lawmakers for Public Land Protections

In recognition of the importance of Colorado’s public lands to the state’s economy, 36 of Colorado’s leading craft beverage companies – including breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries – signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to pass the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act (S.241). The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation in October of 2019. The letter was delivered to members of their state’s congressional delegation on March 5. The letter urges Senator Cory Gardner to support the legislation, which would protect over 400,000 acres of public lands. The delivery of the letter follows an announcement last week that a bipartisan group of Senators, including Senator Gardner, are seeking full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and passage of the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA).

The letter states:

“Living near, adventuring, and enjoying public lands is crucial to our employees’ quality of life and is a significant factor in attracting new employees. Further, these vistas and the memorable experiences that tourists have in them when they visit Colorado serve to endear our brands in our customers’ hearts and ensure they think of us when they are purchasing their next drink back in their home state. Permanently safeguarding these public lands and waters would benefit our economy, health, and local communities.”

Colorado’s craft beverage industry is an economic driver for the state and local communities. In 2018, the 396 craft breweries in Colorado contributed $3.2 billion to the state’s economy, according to data from the Brewers Association. Colorado’s wine industry employs 1,665 people and contributes over $300 million. And the state’s craft distilling industry is the fifth-fastest growing in the country.

“Coloradans love our public lands,” said New Belgium Brewing Company CEO Steve Fechheimer. “The CORE Act is a commitment to future generations that they will get to ski the same slopes, climb the same mountains, and bike the same trails we did.”

The CORE Act contains five key components:

  • Designates wilderness, recreation management, and wildlife conservation areas for nearly 100,000 acres of land in the White River National Forest;
  • Creates the country’s first-ever National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale, the historic training site of the World War II 10th Mountain Division;
  • Permanently protects nearly 61,000 acres of iconic alpine lands in Southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, including Wilderness protections for two fourteeners: Mount Sneffels and Wilson Peak;
  • Withdraws roughly 200,000 acres from mineral exploration in the Thompson Divide, forever protecting this beloved landscape from oil and gas development;
  • Formally establishes the boundary of the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which was established in 1965 without congressionally designated boundaries. The bill will also restore public fishing access in the basin.

“Whether people come to Colorado for adventure or its beauty, they spend money and that helps local economies and small businesses like ours,” said St. Vrain’s Cidery’s President Dean Landi. “Protecting our public lands directly benefits Colorado’s booming craft beverage industry. We take great pride in creating and showcasing cider that represents our state in all its glory. Take away our wild spaces, take away our livelihood.”

These 36 craft beverage companies join a wide variety of local stakeholders calling for this legislation to quickly become law. Senator’s Gardner’s recent work on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Restore Our Parks Act is a meaningful first step, and the craft beverage community hopes it doesn’t stop there. Colorado’s public lands are central to the state’s economy, and the CORE Act will protect some of the most important and beautiful parts of the state for future generations to enjoy.

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