DENVER -- Leaders from Colorado's multi-billion-dollar craft beverage industry delivered a letter this week urging U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to co-sponsor the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy - or CORE - Act, designed in part to protect watersheds.
Willy Truettner, owner of Denver's Zuni Street Brewing, said water is the number-one ingredient in beer, and he believes hard water with rich mineral content from the Rocky Mountains is what sets beer and other beverages produced in Colorado apart.
"If these public lands get opened up to mining or drilling or any sort of development, then that jeopardizes our water source, which then in turn can show up in the beer and not result in the highest quality product that we and our consumers are used to," Truettner said.
The CORE Act would protect roughly 400,000 acres of publicly owned lands, including historic sites, recreation areas, wilderness, waterways and wildlife habitats. Gardner's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The letter from craft brewers noted lands protected under the measure are home to alpine lakes and rivers that Colorado residents depend on for clean drinking water.
Steve Fechheimer is CEO of New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins. He pointed out that the CORE Act is the result of more than a decade of collaboration between a range of stakeholders.
"By ranchers, by mountain bikers, by business owners, hikers, hunters, and the oil and gas industry. And this is really a common-ground bill that the vast, vast majority of people in the state of Colorado are supporting," Fechheimer said.
Colorado's craft brewing industry contributes more than $3 billion in economic impact to the state. The state's wine industry adds more than $300 million to Colorado's economy, and the state's craft distilling industry is the fifth-fastest growing in the nation. The CORE Act cleared the U.S. House last October, and now sits in the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where Gardner is a member.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.