A global beer brand promoting the protection of the outdoors and the environment has honored a Missoula man for his efforts in reforestation and tree planting.

Cerveza Patagonia, a new premium beer brand from Anheuser-Busch has selected Wes Swaffar, Director of Reforestation and Partnerships at the National Forest Foundation in Missoula through a program called ‘Cervezas 4 Your Service’.

“Our headquarters for the National Forest Foundation is right here in Missoula, Montana,” said Swaffar. “We have a network of field offices all across the country. Our mission is to promote the health and public enjoyment of the National Forest system, which is a really incredible network of 193 million acres of National Forest land.”

One of the projects Swaffar is working on involves reforestation of a burned area near Missoula.

“A really good example of our work that we do on a national scale that we can see locally is the Lolo Peak burn,” he said. “All Missoula remembers 2017 with the fires and smoke, and we were able to partner with the Forest Service to provide some funding from our small business and individual contributors to help restore a portion of  that forest and get some trees planted so that site can recover and eventually become forest again.”

Swaffar said the U.S. Forest Service provides the new trees that are being planted in burned areas like the Lolo Peak fire.

“They have a really incredible network of nurseries around the country,” he said. “They will collect cones somewhere near where the original trees were and they send those seeds to a Forest Service nursery and those native seedlings are grown out for two years before they’re transported back to the site where they are then planted by professionals.”

Swaffar said the National Forest Foundation has teamed up with Cerveza Patagonia to plant 50 million trees in America’s national forests.

“We began a partnership with the company earlier this year and as it developed they got to know me and liked what I do, and that we’ve taken on the commitment to plant 50 million trees in the next five years,” he said. “They realized it was a big challenge and wanted to provide a little recognition.”

To reward Swaffar for his dedication and the commitment to tackle such a huge challenge, Cerveza Patagonia provided a very pleasant surprise.

“Cerveza Patagonia was very generous and extended an invitation for us to go to Patagonia, in South America,” he said. “They are allowing my parents and I to take a trip to Patagonia, which is a very special place. I had the good fortune of going there following my graduation from the University of Montana when I went to Patagonia for three months. It’s so similar to Montana with some of its landscapes of the Northern Rockies in a way, and it will be such a treat to make a return trip there.”

Unfortunately, Swaffar said he is not receiving a lifetime supply of Cerveza Patagonia.

“Unfortunately, no,” he laughed. “However, they were very generous in equipping our office with a bunch of really delicious beer.”

(photo courtesy of Dave Gardner)