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REI and IMA Renew Partnership to Help Parks

Take Back the ForestThe Fairfax County Park Authority and REI are deepening their partnership in the battle against invasive plants. REI has approved a $10,000 grant for the Park Authority's Invasive Management Area (IMA) program. This is the third grant, totaling $35,000, that REI has given to the Park Foundation in the past two and a-half years to support the national award-winning IMA program and its associated youth outreach efforts.

"I want to thank and congratulate you on the stewardship work that you're doing," said REI Corporate Giving Manager David Jayo in announcing the latest grant approval. "We are excited to provide your organization with funding, but more importantly, we are committed to strengthening our partnership," he added.

Over the past five years, 7,793 volunteers have given 26,454 hours on 1,395 workdays to remove thousands of bags of invasive plants from parkland and replace them with native plants. The number of volunteers taking part in the IMA program has increased every year since its establishment in 2006, partly because of the REI grants that support a springtime volunteer recruitment program entitled Take Back the Forest that is overseen by IMA Coordinator Erin Stockschlaeder.

"I am eager to once again put this grant to good use by educating and involving Fairfax County citizens in habitat restoration at many of their local parks," Stockschlaeder said. "The efforts from the past two Take Back the Forest events have led to a noticeable improvement at many IMA sites."

Invasive plants cause ecological harm by out-competing native plants and altering the way an ecosystem functions. This can lead to negative effects on natural processes, including fewer birds and less wildlife.

Information about IMA is available from Erin Stockschlaeder at 703-324-8681 or online.

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