A man and a woman stand up paddle boarding on a river.

REI partners with “5,000 Miles of Wild” to celebrate anniversary of Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Coalition to designate 5,000 additional miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System by 2020

Jun 6, 2018

SEATTLE – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act this October, REI announced its partnership with “5,000 Miles of Wild.” This coalition of brands, NGOs, individuals and businesses are working together to designate and help protect 5,000 new miles of rivers as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System by 2020.

For decades, REI has supported nonprofits that help protect American rivers. This year, the co-op is inviting members to get involved in protecting the next 5,000 miles of wild rivers: Co-op invites members to support the effort:

  • Share your personal river story. Whether in urban or rural environments, big rivers or small creeks, everyone has a river story. The 5,000 Miles of Wild campaign will share these stories with legislators. Use the #MyRiverStory hashtag on photos.
  • Sign the petition. Ask Congress to protect 5,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers and one million acres of riverside lands. Make your voice heard by lawmakers.
  • Shop the collection. REI will donate five percent of the purchase price of each item from the collection to support the 5,000 Miles of Wild campaign. “You can’t deny the restorative power of being outdoors, and for me, being near a river. There’s a marked change when you move into the presence of a river. The foliage, the sounds, and even the air changes as you feel the cool breeze blowing off the water. It’s a physical, moving experience, and for me embodies the very best of what a life outside is all about,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Ensuring that future generations have access to these places will help create better stewards of the planet as well as more fulfilled, complete people.”

Read Stritzke’s river story on the Co-op Journal.  

“Healthy rivers are essential to our health and well-being,” said Taldi Walter, government and community affairs manager for REI. “Rivers are just like trails, they connect people across the nation to one another and to our public lands. Sharing stories about how rivers have impacted our lives can make a difference when lawmakers are determining how best to manage them.”

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The designation prohibits construction of new dams or projects that would impede the river’s free-flowing state, water quality or resource values. It also protects a quarter-mile buffer of land along the river and encourages the development of locally-driven management plans for each river. The designation does not change existing river uses, such as fishing, ranching or recreation.

Currently, less than one percent of all American rivers are protected. Two-hundred and eight rivers (12,734 miles of river) make up the National Wild and Scenic River System

Of the additional 5,000 miles that the coalition plans to designate as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System, protections are already underway for over 1,100 river miles. The remaining river miles have been identified by local community groups and river advocates across the nation or currently run on public lands that are due for land management inventories.

“The outdoor community is essential in helping to add and preserve additional river miles,” said Thomas O’Keefe, PhD, Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director of American Whitewater. “By joining “5,000 miles of Wild,” REI helps bring awareness to the program and provides people an easy way to share stories, voice their opinions and meet our goal of designating and protecting additional river miles.”

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 179 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.