WASHINGTON, July 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A $2 million gift to the National Park Foundation from philanthropists Mike and Sue Raney, and an additional $1 million from The REI Foundation, is helping to ensure that two beloved trails in two of our country's majestic national parks will be restored. Both donations are part of the National Park Foundation's $350 million Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks.
The combined multi-million dollar donation, presented during the National Park Service's Centennial year, will establish and create a Wonderland Trail Conservation Corps (WTCC) and an Olympic Conservation Corps under the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps program, a national effort to put thousands of youth and recent veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing our country's cultural and natural resources. Each corps will provide young people with the training needed to help restore the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier National Park and the Enchanted Valley Trail at Olympic National Park over a 10-year period. The REI Foundation's $1 million investment will also support stewardship projects in 17 other parks across the country this year.
"We've travelled the world, but you have to anchor your soul somewhere. For us, that place will always be the Pacific Northwest," said philanthropists Mike and Sue Raney. "Both Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks are close to our hearts. In targeting our gift, we wanted to help bring diverse youth into the parks, not only to improve trails, but to ignite a shared passion for the national parks, America's best idea."
"The Wonderland and Enchanted Valley Trails are two of the most inspiring, iconic outdoor places in the Pacific Northwest. They have helped thousands–maybe millions–of people create cherished memories. They need the community's support to stay healthy and accessible for generations to come," said Marc Berejka, president of The REI Foundation. "The REI Foundation is happy to support these young people and the work they're doing. They're having a once in a lifetime opportunity to steward these places that the community loves. We can't wait to see the transformations that take place—both on the trails and within the young people involved."
"We are extremely excited to launch the Wonderland Trail Conservation Corps at Mount Rainier, and grateful to philanthropists Mike and Sue Raney, The REI Foundation, and the National Park Foundation for the generous gifts that have made this possible," said Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Randy King. "Engaging diverse youth in the care and restoration of this magnificent trail will teach work skills, create new park stewards, benefit the tens of thousands of hikers who enjoy the trail each year, and serve to highlight the great good that can be achieved for our national parks and public lands through philanthropy."
"The support of private citizens and philanthropists is vital to fulfilling the NPS mission of protecting park resources and serving park visitors," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "The generosity and foresight of the Raney family, The REI Foundation and the National Park Foundation will benefit Olympic's visitors, resources and staff for many years to come."
As part of its Congressional charter, the National Park Foundation works with the National Park Service to identify priority projects in need of support across the National Park System. In this capacity, the Foundation is seeking to raise $350 million for programs and projects designed to protect America's special places, connect people from all backgrounds to parks, and inspire future generations of national park stewardship. To date, the Foundation has raised more than $225 million toward this goal.
"From taking a long hike with friends, to walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, to experiencing first-ever glimpses of vast landscapes and rarely seen wildlife, trails can be life-changing memory makers that inspire a lifetime of devotion to our national parks," said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. "Thanks to the generosity of Mike and Sue Raney and The REI Foundation, youth are gaining experience in hands-on stewardship, putting sweat equity into our amazing national park trails so that millions of park enthusiasts can create their own unique, cherished moments and fall in love with these places."
From its inception, the National Park System has benefited from private support. Many of the earliest national parks were the direct beneficiaries of generous philanthropists and organizations who stepped forward to keep national parks protected and accessible for everyone.
ABOUT THE REI FOUNDATION The REI Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Recreational Equipment, Inc. in 1993. The Foundation's mission is to help ensure that tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.