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Highland Brewing Company joins effort to protect important mountain peaks

The day after he arrived in Asheville, Ben Wicker, an employee of Highland Brewing Company, was invited to paddle the South Toe River by a near stranger – an event that helped solidify his love of these mountains and his fondness for the area’s people. Today, Ben is helping drive an effort by Highland Brewing to give back to the mountains that provide Highland employees with off-duty recreation, supply the water for its beer, and lend their names to the company’s seasonal brews.

Coinciding with the release of its summer seasonal beer, Cattail Peak Wheat, Highland Brewing is announcing an educational partnership with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support to conservation of some of the most important mountains in the Appalachians.

“Highland Brewing Company is so tied to the mountains of the Southern Appalachians, we felt it just made sense to form this partnership and work toward the conservation of a landscape we all love and that supplies our beer with quality water,” said brewery owner Oscar Wong, “Our staff is so driven by two things – love of beer and love of mountains.”

To mark the partnership, SAHC is leading a guided hike to Cattail Peak on Saturday, June 12, and will give a brief presentation at the brewery’s Friday afternoon tasting area on Friday, June 4. Cattail Peak sits in the Black Mountains and at 6,600 feet elevation is among the six highest summits in the eastern United States It’s home to a spruce-fir forest, one of the rarest natural communities in the southern Appalachians, found only on the tops of the region’s highest mountains. The peak is also home to the endangered spruce-fir moss spider, the world’s smallest tarantula which lives in the moss beds beneath the spruce and fir tree canopy. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has protected over 10,000 acres of important land and water resources in this mountain range. Several of these tracts of land have been transferred to Mount Mitchell State Park for the public to enjoy forever.

“We really feel this partnership will be a good way to strengthen the community of people who love high-quality local beer and who love our incredible mountains,” said Carl Silverstein, executive director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

As part of the partnership, expect to see more guided hikes of the mountains that have given their names to Highland beers; twelve-pack cartons will carry information about the partnership and the importance of the mountain peaks; Highland will play host to beer release parties and other events that will bring attention to mountain conservation; and the new Highland tasting room will sport maps and other information about these areas.

The guided hike to Cattail Peak will begin at 10 a.m. at Mount Mitchell State Park and will be a strenuous 7-mile round trip hike along the Black Mountain Crest Trail. Participants are encouraged to bring sturdy hiking shoes, rain gear, water bottle, backpack lunch, sun-block and a camera. To register for the guided hike to Cattail Peak, e-mail Kristina@appalachian.org or call (828) 253-0095, ext. 205.

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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