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Meadows Center, REI Outdoor School launch paddling partnership

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
May 18, 2015

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and REI Outdoor School--the nation’s largest provider of outdoor education--and are partnering to put paddlers on the water for the sake of outdoor learning, citizen science and responsible recreation on Texas waters.

The partnership, launched May 15, has two primary components: Explore Spring Lake Classes & Tours and Texas Stream Team Paddlers.

With Explore Spring Lake Classes & Tours, REI will lead classes and interpretive tours on kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Spring Lake in San Marcos. Floating on top of the crystal clear waters of the Edwards Aquifer is the perfect place to learn a new paddling skill or improve existing skills alongside accomplished instructors. Witnessing this sensitive natural resource and the endangered flora and fauna above and below the waterline will offer participants an opportunity to understand the important role these springs play in the area's history and future. All gear and instruction will be provided by REI Outdoor School.

With Texas Stream Team Paddlers, REI is promoting the citizen science program to all who buy boats. REI will host citizen science training events and will host water quality testing kits so community members can carry out citizen science tasks. Since 1991, 8,000 people have come together in 45,000 hours of service to Texas waterways as part of the Texas Stream Team. Each month members monitor and report pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and other indicators of water quality at their favorite sites. That data supports academic research, informs conservation policy, and serves as a de facto early warning system for water quality events across Texas.

By drawing people to Spring Lake, teaching them about water’s importance and helping them become stewards of our natural resources, the REI-MCWE partnership fosters environmental education.

Anyone interested in participating in an upcoming paddling event should visit REISpringLake.com or connect with the REI team at the downtown Austin store at 601 N Lamar Blvd., call (512) 482-3357. Those wishing to join the Texas Stream Team may contact REI at the location above, or visit JoinStreamTeam.org. For more about Spring Lake visit ExploreSpringLake.org.

About REI

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 5.5 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips and outstanding customer service. REI has 140 stores in 33 states. For more than 25 years, REI has been a part of the Central Texas community.  REI operates three stores and has over 90,000 REI Co-op members located in Austin and the surrounding area.  To learn more, visit REI.com/stewardship.

About the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment was named following a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation in August 2012. The Meadows Center is dedicated to environmental research, stewardship, education and service. It is lead by renowned conservationist Andrew Sansom.