Flagstaff brewery partners with Game and Fish to promote wildlife conservation

Flagstaff-based Mother Road Brewing Company has teamed up with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on a new public-private partnership to promote wildlife conservation and protection.

Mother Road launched its new Conserve and Protect Kölsch style ale, which displays AZGFD Conserve and Protect branding on the side of the can, at no cost to the department.

A portion of the proceeds from each beer sold will help AZGFD with on-the-ground conservation of more than 800 unique species of wildlife.

“We know that Arizona is the most beautiful state in the nation, with unparalleled opportunities to hunt, fish and recreate, and our Department of Game and Fish does fantastic work managing our natural resources without a dime from the state’s General Fund,” Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday during a “Cheers to AZ Wildlife!” celebration at Copper Blues Pub in Phoenix.

“I challenge all of our agencies and directors to be innovative, to think outside the box, and these folks have come up with a great idea to partner with someone from the private sector and leverage the best ideas to carry out their mission,” Ducey said. “And that’s really what this gathering and tonight is all about: supporting small business while preserving Arizona’s natural treasures.”

In 2015, the governor signed Senate Bill 1030, also known as the Arizona Beer Bill, which lifted the cap on the number of craft breweries — microbreweries — that can operate within the state. Ducey said the legislation has allowed the industry to thrive and continue to grow.

“Today in our state we have over 100 breweries and growing,” he said. “Craft beer is one of the most exciting industries in the state of Arizona, and Mother Road Brewing Company has earned a reputation for creating some of the very best of that product.”

Kurt Davis, a commissioner for AZGFD, said the new partnership is in line with the department’s goal to “think outside the box” and find new ways to fund wildlife conservation, which currently is funded almost exclusively by hunters and anglers.

“The department and staff have definitely accepted the challenge, and, quite frankly, they hit it out of the park with this collaboration,” Davis said.

“Along with Mother Road Brewing Company donating a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the Conserve and Protect Kölsch to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, this collaboration is helping spread the word about the department’s high-value conservation membership package, which is a new way for every Arizonan — whether they be a hunter, angler, birder, hiker, bicycler, off-roader or just a wildlife viewer — a chance to support the department and wildlife conservation.”

Mother Road CEO Michael Marquess, who co-owns the brewery with his wife, Alissa, said the initial idea for the collaboration was employee-driven. Doug Cummings, AZGFD assistant director, developed the idea with his daughter, Kaitlin Cummings, who works as a hospitality lead at Mother Road.

“They were having some pints and kicking around ideas: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do a beer for Game and Fish?’” Marquess said. “Well, that’s how the best ideas always start is over a pint.”

The Mother Road crew is comprised of people who enjoy the outdoors, whether that’s fishing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking or other wilderness activities.

Marquess said his three kids grew up fishing at the pond down the street from their house, a small community pond that AZGFD stocks with trout.

“I want what I enjoy now with my kids to be there when they’re grown and they have kids, and if we can do that in a small, little way with selling some beer and helping out with conservation and protection, that’s a beautiful thing,” he said.

Mother Road often contributes to the community, including to support the arts and animal welfare, but Marquess said this partnership is the next level.

“This is a much bigger, overarching thing that really allows a lot of folks that may not be anglers or hunters to participate in part of the Conserve and Protect mission, because craft beer drinkers may not all be out as much as we are,” he said. “It’s really to introduce that new group of folk to everything that Arizona has to offer… from desert to mountains, creeks to canyons. I love where we live.”

Graham Bosch

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