In Colorado, public lands are our common ground. Whether a hunter or a skier, brewer or a rancher, we all agree that Colorado is unmatched because of the wild lands and waters in the state we are lucky to call home.

Right now, we have an opportunity to protect some of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes through the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, which would add lasting protections to 400,000 acres of public land in Colorado.

Steve Fechheimer

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the CORE Act’s introduction, and we believe that it’s time for the bill to become law.

Our iconic public lands are not only vital to who we are as Coloradans, they are also vital to our state’s economy including our thriving craft beverage industries.

According to the Brewers Association, Colorado’s craft beer industry contributes $3.3 billion in economic impact to the state. Colorado’s wine industry contributes another $300 million and Colorado’s growing craft distilling industry ranks fifth in the United States.

Our state is also home to large breweries for Molson Coors and Anheuser Busch, which employ many of our fellow Coloradans. 

As an industry whose product depends on clean water and healthy ecosystems, it’s in our best interests to protect these vital resources.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Perhaps more importantly, the lands within the CORE Act are what inspire us to make our products, to create sustainable jobs for our employees and to raise our families here.

The alpine lakes, rich ecosystems, and incredible rivers and streams — our public lands — provide unmatched access to world-class outdoor recreation.

In turn, outdoor recreation spurs unparalleled economic contributions to our state with $28 billion in Colorado consumer spending each year.

The CORE Act not only supports the longevity of these industries’ economies, but it also creates new opportunities such as methane capture at inactive and abandoned mines on the western slope, improving our air quality while strengthening the local economy. 

At New Belgium, we believe in the power of understanding another’s perspective and setting aside differences in order to find common ground.

We cherish opportunities to find things that unite rather than divide us. The CORE Act represents this approach. Created after decades of grassroots organization and local stakeholder consideration, the CORE Act would add lasting protection to 400,000 acres.

Colorado’s senior Sen. Michael Bennet and freshman Congressman Joe Neguse brought together these longstanding, locally built proposals to protect outstanding landscapes in the San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide and Camp Hale Area, Thompson Divide and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

The result is the largest, most well vetted package of wild place protections Colorado has seen in more than a dozen years. 

The CORE Act has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Now the fate of the bill largely depends on Sen. Cory Gardner choosing to co-sponsor the CORE Act.

This week, as Denver welcomes the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer Show — which draws 29,000 visitors to our state — we are reminded of a promise Sen. Gardner made as the show was considering a move from Utah to Colorado.

In an open letter, Sen. Gardner vowed in partnership with Sen. Bennet and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, “to remain steadfast in our [his] commitment to maintain and protect our public lands for Coloradoans and all Americans.”

Sen. Gardner also stressed that, “Protecting our public lands in Colorado is not a partisan issue, and I’ll continue working with members of both parties to protect and promote Colorado’s pristine environment.” Co-sponsorship and an effort to move S.241 this Congress would help fulfil this promise. 

Today, I am calling on all of my colleagues in Colorado’s beverage industry to support the CORE Act, by joining us in a letter to Sen. Gardner encouraging him to move the bill through Congress this year.

It’s time for Sen. Gardner to find common ground and support the CORE Act. It’s good for Colorado.

Steve Fechheimer is the CEO at New Belgium Brewing. 

Special to The Colorado Sun Twitter: @newbelgium