GUEST COLUMN: Celebrating public lands with a cold one

By Land Tawney and Marc Pierce - January 3, 2020 - Originally published in the Missoulian

The next chapter of the conservation movement has arrived, and it comes in a can.

Highlander Beer’s Public Land Owner Pale Ale, released in collaboration with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, exemplifies the growing commitment by forward-looking businesses to protecting and improving our public lands. Together, we share the same goal: protecting our resources and celebrating our way of life.

The motivations for private enterprise jumping into conservation are clear: our outdoor economy is going gangbusters, but its foundation lies in the natural resources — and values — we all share.

At last count, the United States’ outdoors-reliant economy topped $887 billion — and it’s growing. Here in Montana, our outdoor economy drives $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports 71,000 direct jobs. That last part is important: the employees of the companies that have stepped up to support conservation organizations and habitat improvement projects are the same people you run into at the trailhead, on the chairlift, at the boat ramp — or at your local brewery. They’re keen outdoorsmen and -women, and they choose to live in close proximity to public lands and waters because they offer adventure, challenge and spiritual sustenance.

When we released Public Land Owner Pale Ale earlier this year, few could have anticipated the outpouring of enthusiasm and support from Highlander’s customers, BHA’s members and the outdoor community as a whole. Beer is pretty ubiquitous here in Missoula; we’re rarely far away from an excellent brewery or taproom. People are stoked about Public Land Owner Pale Ale in particular because it celebrates the lands and waters that make Montana — and our entire country — the land of public opportunity. Likewise, buying a six-pack supports BHA’s important work to defend the outdoor opportunities we cherish.

Here in Montana, big game hunting season just ended. Opportunities for greenheads remain, but the winter months are here in full force. For the past few months, BHA members from across the continent have been flooding our inboxes and social media with pictures of Public Land Owner Pale Ale in duck boats, at alpine elk camps and on the banks of trout rivers. This will continue on the hard water, in desert quail camps and on Pacific Northwest steelhead rivers. We’re proud to say that our partnership represents a celebration of the hook and bullet traditions on which millions of us rely on for our way of life.

We’re grateful to individuals, companies and groups across North America for taking action to protect public lands, sustain our hunting and fishing opportunities, and keep our stoke alive. Few experiences are more enjoyable and rewarding than returning to the truck after a day in the mountains to sit on the tailgate and crack a beer that was designed for us: public land owners everywhere.

Marc Pierce is a Highlander partner and avid sportsman. Land Tawney is president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

About Land Tawney

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO

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