Chart your course for adventure along Fairfax County trails this summer, and you may cross paths with Matt Liddle. The self-professed outdoor lover and regional REI partnership and philanthropy manager makes it his business to know, promote and help preserve public lands where he works and lives. “It’s a huge part of REI’s DNA,” he said.
Liddle’s passion for the outdoors is rooted in the Pacific Northwest where he grew up. After moving to the D.C. area nearly a decade ago, he was inspired by the region’s many outdoor recreation options.
“I think the best part of the area is the unbelievable network of long-distance trails, like the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail (GCCCT),” he said enthusiastically. “I’m a cyclist, and for me the goal is to ride that thing from end to end this summer.”
His personal quest includes a professional component in fulfilling REI’s purpose-driven commitment to increase access to outdoor recreation. Thanks to a generous REI grant through the Fairfax County Park Foundation, Fairfax County’s trail system now includes 15 new way-finding signs to help outdoor enthusiasts navigate their way on and off the 41-mile GCCCT.
“Way-finding projects are underappreciated and a vital part of access,” he said. “When there are no signs, people are reluctant to explore trail branches because they don’t know where they go. Way-finding signs create more confidence for more people to enjoy more trails, and we love that.”
The Fairfax County Park Authority way-finding project ties in nicely with REI’s vision to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. It’s a shared vision among the nation’s largest consumer cooperative’s 17 million members who volunteer their time and provide company resources to ensure the next generation has a first-hand connection to natural spaces.