454 businesses drop support for WildEarth Guardians after New Belgium debacle in Craig
June 18, 2015
More than 450 businesses requested that their names be removed from the WildEarth Guardians' website after Craig businesses boycotted New Belgium Brewing Company for being listed as a supporter of the environmental group.
Some businesses listed said they never gave anything to the group responsible for a lawsuit that put Colowyo Coal Mine at risk of closing.
The Craig Daily Press published its first story about local liquor stores and restaurants pulling New Belgium and Breckenridge Brewery beer on June 8, and shortly thereafter, WildEarth Guardians staff deleted its webpage called "Businesses for Guardians."
The newspaper then published the cached webpage of supporters, and less than 24 hours later, the environmentalists republished the webpage.
On that page, a total of 605 businesses across Colorado and New Mexico were listed as supporters. As of June 18, that number shrunk to 151 businesses listed as supporters.
"That tells a lot by them losing that many businesses' support," said Ryan Duran, owner of Eastside Liquor. Duran pulled New Belgium's beer last week in protest of the company being listed as supporters of the guardians.
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Both New Belgium and Breckenridge breweries visited Craig to speak with restaurants and liquor store owners. Breckenridge representatives said that they gave WildEarth Guardians a $30 gift card once and has since asked to be removed from the list. New Belgium outlined that it gave the guardians over $9,000 for watershed projects — money that wasn't used for coal litigation.
Some businesses listed as supporters said they never contributed anything to WildEarth Guardians, according to research compiled by Jayne Morley, a Craig resident who has recently spent her evenings emailing businesses listed as Guardians contributors.
"You don't mess with my community," Morley said. "This valley has a special place in my heart."
Morley also works for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association — the electric cooperative that owns Colowyo. The company also operates Craig Station, the coal-fired power plant that gets 45 percent of its coal.
Morley emailed the Denver Botanic Gardens on June 9, stating that she will never visit the business again due to its name being on the list.
Denver Botanic Gardens Director of Marketing and PR Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd responded, stating "we have no affiliation with this organization."
"I'd appreciate your letting me know what relationship you had heard about between the Gardens and WildEarth Guardians. I was not familiar with them prior to your email, but having consulted with our leadership team, we do not collaborate with them," Riley-Chetwynd wrote in an email.
However, Denver Botanic Gardens is still listed as a supporter on the guardian's webpage.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center also was listed on the original page of supporters but has since been removed after Morley questioned the mall's support.
"Dear Jayne — Thank you for the comment you submitted on our website. Please know that we never supported WildEarth Guardians and in reviewing the article in The Craig Daily Press, have since instructed them to remove us from their list of supporters," Marketing and Sponsorship Director Dave Dixon wrote in an email.
WildEarth Guardians environmentalists Jeremy Nichols explained that they're trying to stay focused on their work and not the fact that businesses have pulled their names from the website.
"If businesses want their names off our website, we honor that request, but we’ll continue to reach out to businesses for support and acknowledge generosity in all its forms," Nichols said in an email. "Many businesses generously give to nonprofit charitable organizations, like WildEarth Guardians. Whether the gifts are small (like a gift card) or large (a grant from New Belgium, for example), sustained or one-time, they reflect their commitment to making the world a better place."
Craig businesses are undecided if they want to put New Belgium back on the shelves.
"I think to get New Belgium back on the shelves, they need to say they use coal every day. They need to come out, say something like that, and that will be a step in the right direction," Duran said.
Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.