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OktoberForest Highlights Source of Beer's Main Ingredient

America's forests generate more than $13 billion in income for businesses and communities, and supply a critical ingredient for brewing beer. (Getty Images)
America's forests generate more than $13 billion in income for businesses and communities, and supply a critical ingredient for brewing beer. (Getty Images)
October 26, 2017

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – October means beer festivals in many corners of the globe, and in Colorado several local breweries have banded with The Nature Conservancy to create OktoberForest, a campaign to help keep the state's water supplies clean.

Corey Odell, sustainability coordinator for the Odell Brewing Co., has been organizing events in the company’s Fort Collins tap room to help beer fans see the critical link between trees and their beloved porters, IPAs and pilsners.

"Forest health equates to water quality, and water quality equates to good beer,” she states. “Protecting the forest is, of course, more than just about beer. It's also a great place for anyone to interact with nature."

Odell says America's forests provide more than half of the nation's drinking water, and about 95 percent of beer is actually pure H2O.

Odell says forests help shade streams, lakes, and snow from evaporation, and are efficient at filtering water.

She points out larger and more frequent wildfires have become the biggest threats to watersheds in Colorado and across the West.

Jason Lawhon, forest restoration and fire program director for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado, says the nation's 10 worst fire years have all come since 2000, because of warmer and drier conditions.

He notes that without proper management, forests become denser, which is one reason wildfires have become so intense that after the smoke clears, there are frequently no trees left to hold down the soil.

"The soil then has a lot of trouble, especially here in Colorado, staying put on these steep slopes,” he explains. “So the next time it rains, all the sediment and the material and everything else ends up down in the streams and then moving down in the reservoirs."

Lawhon says bigger fires also cost more to fight, and once containment budgets have been tapped, money has been diverted from prevention budgets, which Lawhon says increases the chances of repeating a dangerous cycle.

He says his group and brewers across the nation are hoping Congress will pass the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, legislation they say would help make sure forests are less fire-prone in the first place.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO