Things aren’t looking so great for public lands right now. The acting director for the Bureau of Land Management is someone who previously advocated for selling off the acreage he now oversees. The Department of Interior is also opening up large swaths to oil and gas drilling and mining. The U.S. Forest Service recently closed a comment period on a new policy that would drastically scale back public input on proposed projects.
Despite the fact that the people in charge are bent on undermining them, nonprofits and NGOs have been working tirelessly to save our public lands, and now they’re getting some backup from craft breweries.
This fall, Highlander Beer, based in Missoula, Montana, released Public Land Owner, an American pale ale brewed for everyone who enjoys or appreciates such places. “We wanted to appeal to the craft-beer drinker, but we wanted it to be sessionable enough”—that is, consumed it in large quantities over a lengthy period without the drinker fading—“to also appeal to a wide audience,” says Hannah Talbott, Highlander Beer’s general manager.
Three percent of the beer’s proceeds will benefit Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a North American network of sportspeople that works to protect public lands. It’s also headquartered in Missoula, and Talbott says many of the brewery employees are BHA members. “It really aligns with our values, so it was a perfect fit,” she says.
The name of the beer comes from the BHA’s most popular T-shirt, which is splashed with the same words. “Everyone is a public-lands owner,” says Talbott. Which means all of us should have a stake in what happens to one of our most precious resources—and we should never forget it.
Right now, Public Land Owner is only available in Montana, but Highlander isn’t the only beer company supporting these treasured places. Fat Tire just wrapped up an Instagram campaign that raised $160,000 for public-lands-focused groups, including the Trust for Public Lands, the National Wildlife Federation, and American Whitewater. The brewery 10 Barrel, based in Bend, Oregon, gives 1 percent of its proceeds annually to Outdoor Alliance, another nonprofit focused on public lands and conservation issues. Patagonia Provisions offers two beers, Long Root Pale Ale and Long Root Wit, and the brand has been one of the fiercest corporate fighters for public lands over these past few years.
To be totally clear, though: buying beer is not enough to get us through this fight. Yes, it’s a great way to support businesses that care, but we can’t sip our way to victory. Call your elected representatives, volunteer with your local advocacy group, and donate money to organizations leading the charge. Once you’ve done all that, then you can toast your good work.