Big Sky Brewing, Montana's largest brewer, announced today that it has signed a three-year contract for Water Restoration Certificates – an innovative water stewardship program launched by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) last year. The purchase will result in restoring flow in Prickly Pear Creek – a tributary of the Missouri River located near Helena, Montana. BEF's Water Restoration Certificate (WRC) program is the first national-level, market-based solution that enables businesses to take responsibility for water consumption by helping restore water flow to critically de-watered creeks and rivers.
'Not only do we depend on Montana's water resources to produce our world-class beers, but beer drinking and fly-fishing are two deeply rooted Montana pastimes and contributors to the State economy,' said Chris Corbin, Sales Representative of Big Sky Brewing Company. 'We are impressed with BEF's WRC program because it is a private-sector solution with easily quantifiable results.'
Big Sky Brewing Company's purchase will result in more than 10 million gallons of water restored to the Prickly Pear Creek during the next three years. BEF is collaborating with the Clark Fork Coalition, the organization that facilitates negotiations with local water rights holders and ensures compliance.
Critically de-watered streams and rivers are a highly relevant issue for the people that live, work and play in Montana. Montana possesses over 4,000 miles of streams that are either dry or have only minimal flow through much of the year due to water laws in the Western U.S. that allow property owners to take a certain amount of water from these water sources. In many cases, the rights to withdraw water exceed the total amount of water in the river or stream- particularly in late summer. These waterways are a significant economic resource for Montana. According to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, in 2005 alone more than 600,000 visitor groups traveled to Montana for rafting- or fishing-related activities and guided fishing trips contributed more than $51 million to the state economy.
Increasing the commitment to water stewardship through the purchase of WRCs reflects Big Sky Brewing Company's history of innovation as a brewer and ongoing commitment to sustainability. The brewer was the first to use aluminum bottles in North and South America. These containers enable more efficient shipping of product – due to the lighter weight, 34% more product can be shipped per load. Additionally, Big Sky has implemented systems that have reduced energy use by 80%, water use by 20% and use of natural gas by 40%.
To further emphasize their support for the WRC program, BSBC is updating the packaging of their Montana Trout Slayer Ale, with the goal of educating customers on the brewing industry's impact on water usage and the WRC program overall. The new packaging is slated for delivery in fall of 2010.
BSBC also plans to produce a series of digital shorts that tell the story of Montana's de-watered streams in a fun and engaging way. The series will be available for viewing later this year. 'To get quality in the bottle you have to have quality in the streams,' adds Corbin.
Innovative market-solution to water sustainability
BEF launched the unique Water Restoration Certificate Program in August 2009. WRCs are a voluntary, market-based program that provides economic incentives for water rights holders to reduce water use in order to maintain healthy ecosystems. Every WRC represents 1,000 gallons of water that is restored to critically dewatered streams.
The program represents the first and only certified, national-level flow restoration program that offers certificates that are standardized, inventoried and ready for purchase. Current water restoration projects funded by BEF are in Oregon and Montana, but the program is expected to expand to other geographies as support for the WRC program grows. Standards and criteria for the WRC program have been certified by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to ensure water is returned in ways that provide the greatest environmental benefit to the surrounding region, including the support of fish and wildlife. To ensure that water returned to the environment is never double-counted, WRCs are individually numbered and tracked by the Markit Environmental Registry, a leading global provider of registries for ecosystem markets.
'Big Sky is the largest brewer in the state ranked #1 in beer consumption,' said Rob Harmon, Chief Innovation Officer at BEF. 'Their support for WRCs not only demonstrates their deep commitment to sustainability, but also to the heart and soul of Montana—the environment.'
An entrepreneurial nonprofit, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) is creating a more sustainable future by investing now in clean energy and fresh water. Customers who buy independently certified BEF Carbon Offsets and Renewable Energy Certificates support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the development of new renewable energy facilities, while customers who buy BEF's Water Restoration CertificatesTM support the return of water to critically dewatered streams and rivers. All BEF customers and donors support long-term watershed restoration and renewable energy education for students and communities nationwide because BEF reinvests its net revenues to fund its Model Watershed and Solar 4R Schools programs. Since it was established in Portland, Ore. in 1998, BEF has been a pioneer in helping people and companies become better stewards of the environment. Learn more at www.b-e-f.org.
About Big Sky Brewing Company
Set in the heart of the Northern Rockies, Missoula, Montana is where Big Sky Brewing Company calls home. Since its inception in 1995, our philosophy is to have as much fun as possible while crafting world class beers.
Moose Drool Ale, the first of our award willing beers was an instant success! In the years following, our brewers have crafted Scape Goat Pale Ale, Montana Trout Slayer Ale, Big Sky IPA, and two seasonals; Summer Honey and our winter brew, Powder Hound Winter Ale as well as a number of other world-class craft beers.
Big Sky Brewing Company's products are available from Northern Alaska to Southern California and as far east as Michigan. We craft beers that we like to drink. Our beers will compliment any lifestyle, from enjoying time with family and friends to exploring the great outdoors. Montana is renowned for its pristine landscape and hardworking, hard playing lifestyle.