MillerCoors understands the importance of maintaining and preserving freshwater systems. This includes water management in their breweries and the supply chain. In particular, barley production requires a great deal of freshwater, and can pose issues to the surrounding watershed. That’s why MillerCoors is working with the Nature Conservancy to educate and improve practices of these suppliers in an effort to protect freshwater systems that are vital to their business, surrounding communities and wildlife.
In 2009 MillerCoors and the Conservancy began working together in the Silver Creek watershed of central Idaho. Silver Creek is one of the country’s premier trout streams and one of the Conservancy’s premier preserves. It is also surrounded by barley growers under contract to MillerCoors. And while Silver Creek is indeed a special resource, its health is threatened by a wide range of stressors from high summer water temperatures, increasing sedimentation, decreased flows (due to irrigation) and invasive species. With the help of MillerCoors the Conservancy has been able to make substantial improvements to the watershed and increase protection of Silver Creek.
Specifically, MillerCoors has helped fund:
- A study of the watershed to ensure conservation actions are based on a science-based understanding of the issues
- New wetland areas for sediment deposition
- Fencing and re-planting of riparian areas that had been degraded by grazing
- Easements on adjacent properties to prevent inappropriate development
In 2011 and 2012 the initiative will seek to expand the best management practices employed at Silver Creek to other farmers in the watershed and beyond. A “Showcase Barley Farm” will be created through a joint effort between an area farmer, MillerCoors and the Conservancy. This farm will serve as a model for other producers to visit and learn how best practices can provide important conservation benefits without impacting farm productivity.