“The National Forest Foundation is a vital partner in our work to invest in the future of the outdoors and to make our public lands more accessible for all,” said Taldi Walter, REI community and government affairs manager. “While our national forests are enjoyed by millions of Americans every year, trail restoration and maintenance can lag when natural disasters or other environmental factors cause damage. We’re grateful for partners like the National Forest Foundation who make trail maintenance, restoration and access a priority.”
Seven out of ten Americans live within a two-hour drive of a national forest. National forests offer more than 158,000 miles of multi-use trails, 4,300 campgrounds and 1,200 boating sites in 43 states.
“REI’s continued commitment to America’s public lands, including our national forests, is an incredible example of how businesses can make a real difference to these treasured landscapes,” said Mary Mitsos, NFF president. “We are very proud of the work that we’re accomplishing with REI and grateful for their support of our national forests.”
This year’s investment will mark the second donation in a multi-year partnership with the NFF. REI also donated $1 million in 2017. In 2018, funds will support 11 projects across the country, including:
- Recovery efforts in Sam Houston National Forest, after Hurricane Harvey: Located just 50 miles north of Houston, the Sam Houston National Forest suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Harvey. Together with REI and local community groups, the NFF is working to remove downed trees, repair bridges and stream crossings and survey other damage. The Sam Houston National Forest spans 163,000 acres and is a popular area for camping and hiking.
- Recovery efforts in Ocala National Forest, after Hurricane Irma: As Hurricane Irma hit the state of Florida, it also devastated its national forests. The Ocala National Forest, located just north of Orlando, is home to the Florida Scenic Trail, which offers wildlife viewing and swimming. The NFF will use REI funds to restore access by repairing the boardwalk along the trail.
- The NFF’s “Find Your Fourteener” campaign in Colorado: Colorado is home to 54 14,000-foot peaks, known as the “Fourteeners.” Forty-eight of these peaks grace six of the state’s national forests, and trails along the peaks are some of the most popular in the nation. REI funds will support trail maintenance on Quandary Peak, Mt. Elbert and the Devil’s Playground trail on Pikes Peak, making the trails more durable and sustainable for the future.
Other projects supported by the REI investment include work in California, Georgia, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. For a full list of both 2017 and 2018 NFF projects, click here.
The REI donation to the National Forest Foundation was made possible by the REI Co-op Mastercard. With every purchase made on the REI Co-op Mastercard, REI makes a donation to the National Forest Foundation. To learn more about the co-op’s efforts to support trail restoration and the people behind these efforts in national forests, click here.
Photo courtesy REI