The large task of preserving heritage and conserving natural resources across the American West takes multi-faceted and concentrated efforts. The private sector serves as an important partner in the collective work to achieve preservation and conservation outcomes in many individual communities and ecosystems. Though there are many businesses across the country that support these efforts, the beer industry in particular has lead the way by supporting restoration, preservation and conservation efforts in interactive and innovative ways. 

Earlier this year Lone Star Beer launched the Tabs for Texas campaign to help support the mission of Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. (TDHP), which is dedicated to saving and promoting Texas' historic dance halls and the music and culture that is still found in them. Special issue 12 oz. and 16 oz. cans of Lone Star Beer equate to a $1 donation per beer can tab to TDHP when tabs are placed in one of the boot receptacles located at over 228 retailers and dancehalls statewide. The promotion continues through April 30th, 2017. The goal of the campaign is to raise $30,000 to help preserve the historic structures.

Further west, breweries Stone & Ballast Point are leading the way in natural resource conservation by creating beers from highly purified reclaimed water. The limited-edition beers were brewed for a special event (not available to the public) to help promote San Diego's pilot program, Pure Water, which has a goal of increasing the local reliance on recycled water. Since 2011, Pure Water has purified 1 million of the 30 million gallons of wastewater the city produces every day. The program, still in its early days, does not yet return recycled water to the tap, but performs frequent quality tests to confirm its drinkability. As a promotion for the program, Stone brewed Full Circle Pale Ale. According to Stone, the reclaimed water used in Stone Full Circle Pale Ale was:

  • Cleaner than normal tap water;
  • Allows for a more reliable source of supply;
  • Benefits the environment and community; and,
  • Reinforces Stone Brewing’s commitments to sustainability and the community.

New Belgium, which brews in Fort Collins, CO and Asheville, NC supports natural resource conservation in a number of ways. Across the country, New Belgium's philanthropy program, which was conceived in 1995, donated $1 for every barrel of beer sold to non-profit organizations in the communities where New Belgium beers are sold. The grant program focuses on five strategies to mitigate human impacts on the plant, the strategies include: 

  1. Youth environmental education;
  2. Sustainable agriculture;
  3. Smart growth and climate;
  4. Bicycle advocacy; and,
  5. Water conservation and restoration. 

In 2016, New Belgium funded programs within their strategy areas to the tune of $904,288 in grants ranging from $500 - $5,000 per non-profit funded. 

In addition to their philanthropy program, New Belgium holds themselves to high standards in regards to the inputs of their beers and their brewing processes. Sustainability, which is part of their constitution, is measured through their environmental metrics initiative including water, waste and emissions. Their commitment to sustainability influences their sourcing processes as well including purchasing, hops and barley, and packaging. 

There are many examples of innovative private sector support of conservation and preservation. The list includes Ninkasi Brewing's water conservation deal with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), which has re-streamed the Middle Deschutes River in Oregon, and many more. The brewing industry is just one private sector industry leading the way in heritage preservation and natural resource conservation. In order to preserve heritage and conserve natural resources across the American West, we will need multi-faceted and concentrated efforts and continued leadership from the private sector. 

(Photo credit: Flickr user LOLren)