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HomeNL-2011-09 REI Donation
REI Donation
John Rich

Houston Canoe Club member Bob Arthur also serves on the board of the Bayou Preservation Association (BPA), whose mission it is to protect and restore Houston area waterways.  Bob reports that the BPA has just received a $20,000 grant from the outdoor store chain Recreational Equipment, Inc., better known simply as REI.

REI plans to grant $4.2 million this year to nonprofits across the country that work to preserve and maintain natural spaces through active volunteer programs.

At REI, we encourage our members and customers who enjoy the outdoors to play an active role in taking care of those places,” said Kevin Hagen, director of corporate social responsibility for REI. “We are honored to partner with hundreds of dedicated nonprofit organizations that share a similar mission and whose programs allow us to expand these efforts to trails, waterways and parks across the country.

The company designates three percent of the previous year's operating profit to its annual grants program. Because REI employees have the most direct connection to local nonprofits, store employees nominate organizations from their local community.

REI has two Houston locations: One in the Galleria and one in Willowbrook

The grant from REI to BPA will help fund a major improvement project for 60 miles of paddling trails along Buffalo Bayou and Cypress Creek. BPA has already raised funds from private sources to supplement the grant, which will enable the project to move forward. It will involve community volunteers and contract labor performing a number of tasks along both waterways.

Pictured left to right are Bayou Preservation Association Water Quality Director Steve Hupp, BPA Executive Director Kathy Lord and Dina Attar, Outreach Specialist for REI Houston, who is presenting Kathy with a check for $20,000.

Buffalo Bayou is an official state paddling trail through Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), which came about through BPA's partnership with numerous organizations including the Houston Canoe Club.

According to Carol Brejot, BPA's Public Relations Director, the work is to be done by volunteers combined with skilled, contract labor, includes:
  • Completing installation of trail mileage and take-out signage.
  • Water craft-based removal of litter and heavy debris.
  • Removal of invasive, exotic plant species in riparian habitats along the bayou's edges and at paddle launches.
  • Native replanting along bayou.
Cypress Creek BPA is working with the Cypress Creek Greenway Project for designation of the waterway as a state paddling trail by TPWD.  Planned work includes:
  • Creation of five additional paddling trail launches along approximately 40 miles of the bayou to complement the three launch sites already in place.
  • Installation of signage kiosks at launches and trail mileage and take-out signage along the route of the bayou.
  • Removal of litter and heavy debris along targeted sections.
  • Removal of invasive, exotic plant species from riparian habitat along bayou's edges and at paddling launches.
  • Replanting of native riparian habitat along bayou.
BPA will work closely with REI to promote environmental stewardship by encouraging more people to appreciate the value of local waterways as both ecological and recreational assets through volunteer involvement.

Volunteer projects will be scheduled every other month and will be posted through both the Houston and Willow Brook REI stores and at:

Cypress Creek Paddle Trail