We’re enjoying great times here at Ska Brewing, and we are proud to be part of the craft brew explosion in Colorado. What started with one craft brewery in Boulder in 1979 has grown to 348 statewide in 2017.
Craft brew is now the fastest growing beer category in America, doubling in market share over the past five years.
Aside from quality beer and excellent customer care, what makes a brewery – or for that matter any business in Colorado – successful?
Headquartered in beautiful Southwest Colorado, we have always believed that Colorado’s protected public lands are what give Colorado businesses an economic competitive advantage. Our dazzling lands and rivers, parks and monuments attract recreationists and tourists from all over the world who spend money on food, lodging, clothing and more. Our quality of life attracts new residents, a talented workforce and retirees with disposable income – and keeps them here.
The independent, nonprofit research group Headwaters Economics has repeatedly verified the direct connection between protected lands and the economic prosperity of neighboring communities. In a new study, rural and non-metro counties in the West with more protected national public lands, such as national parks and monuments, performed better on average than their peers with fewer protected federal lands in four key economic measures.
Perhaps the largest component of Colorado’s economic bounty attributed to its unspoiled lands is outdoor recreation. According to the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Economy report, in addition to visitors, a full 71 percent of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation each year.
The Colorado active outdoor recreation economy contributes $28 billion in consumer spending annually to the state’s economy, supports 229,000 jobs across Colorado, generates nearly $2 billion in annual state tax revenue and is responsible for $9.7 billion in wages and salaries. These numbers do not need beer to be staggering.
Lucky us, we get to experience the Colorado “outdoor effect” nearly every day. After a full day at Canyons of the Ancients or Mesa Verde, outdoor lovers quite often get thirsty and are inclined to drop by and relax with a beer.
Unfortunately, this vitality spawned by our popular public lands is threatened. On April 26, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Department of the Interior to “review” 27 national monuments for possible reduction in size or complete removal. Nearby Canyons of the Ancients has been “spared,” but others remain under the microscope.
Right now, Interior Secretary Zinke is working on his recommendations for what stays and what goes.
We will hear from the secretary in a final assessment to be released on Aug. 24. He says that the well over 1 million public comments submitted will help inform his recommendations. The latest reports are that an overwhelming majority want to keep our national monuments as they are. Let’s hope Zinke is paying attention and acts on his word.
To say that we are blessed to live in Colorado is an understatement. We luxuriate in amazing outdoor splendor that doubles as an economic engine.
And so it is that an investment in our national parks and national monuments turns out to be an investment in our lives and livelihoods.
We would be foolish to tamper with a park system that conserves our prized public lands and is literally “the goose that lays the golden egg.”
Just do the math; reducing or rescinding any of our national monuments comes up a bad choice – whether you are a hiker, a climber, a paddler, a beer aficionado, a man, a woman, a lucky pet of an outdoor-active family ... and especially if you value a healthy Colorado economy.
Dave Thibodeau, is co-founder and president of Ska Brewing Co. in Durango. The company has participated in campaigns to protect public lands and created a beer with its Durango craft brewery mates to recognize the first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day in May 2017.