Photo Credit: Epic Beer, Flickr
Climate change is threatening even the beer we drink.
The Yakima Valley is Washington’s agricultural treasure house, home to rich crops of cherries, peaches, apples, wine grapes and hops – a key ingredient for beer.
About 75 percent of the nation’s hops come from the Yakima Valley. They’re valued around the world because the valley produces so many varieties of hops.
All this bounty is dependent on the Yakima River, which flows down from the Cascade Mountains and nurtures about 6,150 square miles of forests, farms and communities.
And that river is under stress. The need for water for farms, salmon habitat and communities exceeds what is available. The situation is getting worse as communities grow and a changing climate shrinks the snowpack. In 2015, Washington suffered through one of its worst droughts in history, with record-low snowpack to sustain the river. And NOAA reports that affects hops as much as anything else.
What can we do about it?
One measure is to protect the forest from which the river flows. Healthy forests protect the snowpack, filter the water and ensure clean cool water for the future.
In 2014, The Nature Conservancy acquired nearly 48,000 acres of forest lands in the Central Cascades, including 390 miles of rivers and streams and the headwaters of the Yakima River.
We’re working with partners to restore these forests to health and ensure the streams and rivers will flow clean and clear for generations to come, sustaining salmon, people and beer.