My Views: Love Oregon beer? Then protect watershed
Oregon craft brewers need clean water to make great beer. And since beer is more than 90 percent water, we need to protect the land from which the water flows.
We also understand that being outdoors is part of our culture. Residents and visitors alike go out on the trails, have a great time, and visit our breweries to try our craft brews.
Outdoor recreation and Oregon beer go hand-in-hand. So protecting important watersheds and forests is important to the future success of our industry. That is why Base Camp Brewing and Conner Fields Brewing joined more than 50 craft breweries across the state asking for Congress to pass the Oregon Wildlands Act.
The Oregon Wildlands Act will ensure some of the state's treasured public lands and rivers continue to provide outdoor recreation opportunities and clean water for Oregon communities, wildlife and beer makers. Without protected watersheds and clean water, neither the wild areas nor our craft brewing industry can thrive.
Specifically, the bill 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.
In the Oregon Coast Range, it would establish the 30,500-acre Devil's Staircase Wilderness and designate 14.6 miles of Franklin Creek and Wasson Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
It would expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness by more than 56,000 acres and add roughly 125 miles to the incomparable Rogue Wild and Scenic River. And it would protect almost 95,000 acres to create the Rogue Canyon Recreation Area and another 24,000 acres to create the Molalla Recreation Area to protect and enhance the unique fish, wildlife and recreational values of both areas.
Oregon's beer industry is an economic driver for our state and local communities. Over 19 million people visited Oregon breweries or taprooms in 2016. According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, over 200 brewing companies created more than 9,000 jobs and contributed $4.49 billion to the state economy in 2016.
We should know. Collectively, we employ more than 30,000 people.
For all these reasons, on Dec. 3 we delivered the letter signed by over 50 craft brewers to members of the Oregon congressional delegation pledging our industry's support of the Oregon Wildlands Act.
On Dec. 5, we hosted two events at Base Camp Brewing and Conner Fields Brewing to publicly highlight this support as well as celebrate leaders in the community who have worked hard to move this important legislation forward.
We encourage our Oregon leaders, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Kurt Schrader, to keep fighting to get this done. We call on Congress as a whole to vote the Oregon Wildlands Act into law.
We look forward to raising a pint to Oregon once these special lands and waters are protected.
Ross Putnam is co-founder and general manager of Base Camp Brewing in Portland. He can be reached at 503-477-7479. Jon Conner is owner of Conner Fields Brewing in Grants Pass. He can be reached at 541-508-2337.