Jerry Stritzke: Our National Parks Need Our Help

REI’s 12,000 employees have built our lives and livelihoods around the outdoors, and America’s national parks hold a special place in our hearts. As a community, we’ve invested millions of dollars and hours supporting and protecting them over the last 80 years.

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The people of the United States share equally in the ownership of these majestic places, and this powerful idea should transcend party lines. And right now, the parks need our help.

The government shutdown leaves many of our country’s iconic outdoor destinations in bad shape. We’ve all read the reports of trash piling up, facilities being overrun and vandalism. As Americans, we are all asking what we can do to support them.

REI has been working with our partners at the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and nonprofits across the country because they know better than anyone what our parks need right now.

Their ask is clear: They do not want volunteers to step in unsupervised before the shutdown has ended. Instead, we are being asked to join official restoration efforts across the country once the needs and volunteer opportunities are clearer. Today, you can register your intent to volunteer with national parks’ friends groups. If you can’t be there in person, donate to their efforts.

REI employees will volunteer in their communities, and we are encouraging REI members, friends and families to do the same. I will be out there personally when our community here in Washington State begins work on Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks.

REI will also be giving at least $250,000 to help with the restoration efforts, adding to the more than $10 million we have given to the parks the last five years.

These places truly belong to all of us. Together, we can make a lasting positive impact on national parks nationwide.

Jerry Stritzke

President and CEO, REI Co-op