Oregon Craft Brewers Call on Congress to Protect Oregon’s Lands & Waters

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Letter Comes as Congress Prepares for its Final Days This Year

In recognition of the importance of Oregon’s waters to the brewing industry, more than 50 of Oregon’s leading craft breweries have pledged their support to The Oregon Wildlands Act (S.1548). Their letter was delivered to members of the Oregon congressional delegation on December 3.

The letter states, “Our businesses are built on the bedrock of clean water and a healthy environment. Protecting our watersheds and public lands is critical to keeping Oregon craft beer flowing. In addition, special wild places and public lands such as those in the Oregon Wildlands bill provide boundless inspiration and access to world-class recreation. Part of the reason we all live and work in Oregon is because we have incomparable rivers and landscapes to get out and enjoy. These special places make Oregon the great state it is. Simply put, safeguarding these public lands and waters is crucial to our economy, health and our communities.”

The Oregon Wildlands Act would designate more than 200,000 acres of land as wilderness or recreation areas and add more than 250 miles to the Wild and Scenic River System. Specifically, the bill would:

• Create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness by designating 30,500 acres of remote lands in the Oregon Coast Range;
• Expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness by more than 56,000 acres;
• Designate 14.6 miles of Franklin Creek and Wasson Creek and 125 miles of the incomparable Rogue as Wild and Scenic Rivers;
• Designate several key rivers as Wild and Scenic including the Molalla, Elk and Nestucca Rivers;
• Protect almost 95,000 acres to create the Rogue Canyon Recreation Area and another 24,000 acres to create the Molalla River Recreation Area to protect and enhance the unique fish and wildlife and recreational values of both areas;
• Protect the Chetco River from harmful mining.

“The primary ingredient in beer is water and the water we use is a product of the land it flows through. Being a rural brewer who relies on an aquifer source, I consider water a beer’s terroir,” said Jon Conner, owner of Conner Fields Brewing in Grants Pass. “Oregon craft brewers rely on clean water to make great beer and that’s why I’m joining the more than 50 craft breweries across the state asking for Congress to pass the Oregon Wildlands Act to protect these important watersheds.”

Oregon’s beer industry is an economic driver for the state and local communities. According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, in 2016, numbers show that over 200 brewing companies created more than 9,000 jobs and contributed $4.49 billion to the state economy. Nearly 19,000,000 people visited an Oregon brewery, pub or taproom in 2016, making the industry a major tourism draw along with Oregon’s outdoor spaces.

“Outdoor recreation and Oregon beer go hand in hand,” said Ross Putnam, co-founder and general manager of Portland-based Base Camp Brewing. “But without protected watersheds and clean water, neither the wild landscapes nor our craft brewing industry could thrive. We are lucky to have Oregon leaders that appreciate the value of outdoor recreation and craft beer to the state economy.”

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