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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Welcomes Provost Umphrey as Platinum Conservation Sponsor

November 20, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is proud to welcome the Provost Umphrey Law Firm—a national leader in the fight for justice and workers’ rights for nearly 50 years—as a Platinum Level Conservation Sponsor. 

Texas-based Provost Umphrey has pledged $1 million over the next five years to support Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program, and conservation outreach programs benefiting the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

“Members of the USA are hard workers, the type of workers that we represent every day,” says Joe Fisher, managing partner at Provost Umphrey. “As fellow outdoorsmen, we recognize the importance of supporting WBG to ensure these hard workers are able to continue their conservational and educational efforts.”

“We feel honored and blessed to have Provost Umphrey as our partner as we expand our conservation and outreach programs nationwide,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “They are hunters, anglers, shooters and conservationists who believe in our mission and strongly support our outdoor heritage. They live the lifestyle we support through our conservation efforts and they believe deeply in our mission.”

Provost Umphrey’s support will help the USA substantially increase its mission delivery. The USA is dedicated to uniting union workers to complete critical conservation, public access, education, youth outreach and adult mentorship projects in communities across the country. The organization celebrated its 100th WBG project last fall and has already coordinated the completion of more than 50 projects in 2018.

“Like the relationships with our charter unions and other allies, financial support like the Provost Umphrey sponsorship helps the USA maintain its record-setting growth as we harness the passion, power and skills of union volunteers to impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage,” Vance added.

The Provost Umphrey sponsorship follows USA partnerships with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Pure Fishing, Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The USA also recently partnered with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Celebrates Grand Opening of New Spring Hill Headquarters

November 16, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release

Labor, community and conservation leaders gathered Nov. 16 to help the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) celebrate the grand opening of its new state-of-the-art, union-built world headquarters in Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

The festivities included an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house reception attended by representatives from international labor unions, the outdoor industry and the local community.

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson (holding scissors) led the official ribbon cutting.

“We can all be proud of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s new permanent home in Spring Hill,” said Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson, a current and founding member of the USA board of directors. “This grand opening celebration marks the latest of many milestones and accomplishments too numerous to address today.”

“Watching the USA grow from a small group of dedicated union sportsmen to more than 260,000 members in 11 years is a source of great satisfaction for me, and demonstrates the importance of this organization in the lives of union members—many of whom share a love of fishing, hunting and the outdoors,” Robinson continued. “We are grateful to the USA for transforming the collective power of unions into a potent force for the protection of our natural resources and outdoor traditions for future generations to enjoy.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance said the new headquarters will help the organization continue expanding its mission impact. “This new permanent home is the perfect base of operations from which to increase the number and scope of our projects nationwide, as we harness the passion, power and skills of union volunteers to impact the future of conservation and our shared outdoor heritage,” he said.

USA Strategic Accounts Manager Sam Phipps, a U.S. Army combat veteran, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Located at 4800 Northfield Lane adjacent to the GM Spring Hill Manufacturing site, the new USA headquarters offers 6,100 square feet of office space and a 4,600-square-foot warehouse.

The facility is housed in the former Saturn Bank building, which the USA purchased in April of 2018—kicking off an intensive, six-month renovation campaign. Throughout the project, the organization relied heavily on skilled union labor to transform the facility into a private campus designed to foster the USA’s efforts to unite union members in community-based conservation, public access and outreach projects.

“We are also excited to be neighbors to United Auto Workers Local 1853,” Vance added. “They have been very supportive of the USA and we look forward to working with them on a variety of activities and partnerships going forward.”

Local businesses and unions involved in the project include: Anderson Piping – UA Local  572, Besco – IBEW Local 429, Bricklayers Local 8 Southeast, Going Signs – SMART Local 137, International Masonry Training and Education Foundation Local 17101, Johnson Contractors – UBC Local 1209 & Local 223, Music City Glass – DC91 Local 456, Nashville Sheet Metal – SMART Local 177, Roofing Services & Solutions – SMART Local 177, Skyline Painters – IUAP Local 456 & Local 80, Tecta America Commercial Roofing – Roofers Local 2, Terrazzo & Concrete Equipment – BAC Local 21 and War Paint Fab – IAMAW Grand Lodge.

USA, Partners Host Veterans’ Fishing Event to Celebrate New Griffin Reservoir Fishing Pier

October 31, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release

Griffin Reservoir

Project partners gathered for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating the new community fishing pier.

U.S. Armed Forces veterans were honored with a fishing event Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 at Griffin Reservoir near Scranton, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the dedication of a new public fishing pier that gives community members of all ages and physical abilities improved access to the popular impoundment.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Pennsylvania American Water, American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and a consortium of local labor unions hosted the event. Union volunteers assisted the veterans, each of whom received a free rod, reel and tackle courtesy of Pure Fishing, plus additional items courtesy of Carhartt. Prior to the dedication ceremony, a catered lunch was provided to all veterans and other participants.

Griffin Reservoir

Union volunteers helped local veterans enjoy the new public pier.

The dedication recognized USA volunteers from Pennsylvania American Water, Utility Workers Local 537, Electrical Workers Local 81 and Carpenters Local 445 who donated more than 400 hours—a labor value of nearly $15,000—to clear the site and construct the 18 ft. x 25 ft. handicap-accessible pier.

The project was one of three funded by a $60,000 grant from the AWCF to the USA and organized through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program.

AWCF and Pennsylvania American Water provided additional support to complete the driveway and parking lot, further improving access to Griffin Reservoir. The project also received funds allocated from the USA’s United Mine Workers of America Conservation Dinner in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Located in Lackawanna County, the 110-acre Pennsylvania American Water reservoir is flush with a variety of gamefish, including above-average populations of largemouth bass, bluegills and black crappies. The reservoir was opened to public shore-fishing 2011, but access was limited until the new pier was completed.

“This project is the culmination of a unique partnership that benefits our community,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre. “Working with both our Charitable Foundation and USA, we brought a team of volunteers together to create this beautiful spot that we are now able to share with every member of our community. Pennsylvania American Water is proud to continue its commitment to our communities and our neighbors.”

Griffin Reservoir

U.S. Navy veteran Clifford Davies told media members he is looking forward to returning to the pier on future fishing expeditions.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation was proud to support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance with funding for this outstanding project, which will enable greater interaction with and appreciation for our water resources among the local community served by Pennsylvania American Water,” added Aldie Warnock, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the American Water Charitable Foundation.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder were also on hand. “We’re just so proud to be part of a movement that helps our skilled union workers give back their time, energy and talents to make everyone’s lives better by being able to come out and enjoy this beautiful reservoir,” said Bloomingdale.

“We are honored to work with Pennsylvania American Water, American Water Charitable Foundation and our many hardworking union volunteers, who joined forces through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program to complete the new fishing pier,” added USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker. “This project will benefit the local community for many years to come.”

While the veterans enjoyed their lakeside meal and fall fishing trip, they were also eager to return to the new pier on future fishing adventures. “This is great,” said Clifford Davies, a retired Navy veteran with 20 years of service. “I look forward to coming back here again next summer.”

USA Honors Brent Beasley and Mark Conroy as Roofers and Waterproofers Conservation Stewards of the Year

October 26, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

Brent Beasley (center) was one of two recipients of 2018 Roofers Conservation Steward of the Year Awards. Beasley accepted the award from United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson (left) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (right).

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) honored Brent Beasley and Mark Conroy with 2018 United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Conservation Steward of the Year Awards for their exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The awards recognize volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Beasley, of Orange, California, serves as business manager of RWAW Local 220, president of the union’s Western Regional District Council and RWAW International 9th vice president. He is a tireless, longtime supporter of USA conservation projects and events.

“Brent has been an integral volunteer on the USA team since our organization’s inception,” said USA Director of Special Events Heather Tazelaar. “For example, he was essential in finding nearly 100 volunteers for our 2014 Bolsa Chica Wetlands restoration project that brought local families and skilled tradespersons together to restore a one-mile stretch of trail.

“The USA has never executed a project or fundraising event in southern California without Brent’s assistance,” Tazelaar continued. “He has also donated his time to communities far from his home. For example, he has volunteered for the USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day outreach event in Minnesota since 2012.”

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award from such a distinguished conservation organization as the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance,” Beasley said.

Mark Conroy (center) accepted the 2018 Roofers Conservation Steward of the Year Awards from United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey Robinson (left) and USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance (right).

Conroy, of Clearwater, Minnesota, is likewise a longtime proponent of the USA’s mission. Business manager of RWAW Local 96, he has been involved in USA conservation efforts across the board—most recently lending a hand at the USA’s 8th Annual Roofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot, where he handled local market facilitation, promoted the event within the trades, recruited volunteers and oversaw the funding for Local 96 donations.

“Mark Conroy has served as USA’s main liaison on the USA’s Roofers & Waterproofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot and our Minnesota Get Youth Outdoors Day event since 2017,” said Tazelaar. “He engages local unions in our events and personally volunteers his time to assist. Although Mark was newly elected as business manager of Local 96, he continued to support and engage the community to help build what now holds the record as USA’s largest shooting event.”

“We were very honored and surprised to receive this award,” said Conroy, who was quick to highlight the many benefits of volunteering for USA’s conservation efforts.

“Promoting the events is extremely easy when everyone believes in their cause,” he said. “To see projects completed in our local communities and introduce young people to outdoor activities is definitely a bonus. Seeing the youths return to these events year after year—and their smiles as they participate—is priceless. To watch these events expand is a testament to our belief in the mission of the USA.”

USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance presented Conroy and Beasley with the awards on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 at the 29th International Convention of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers.

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.

Ohio AFL-CIO, Union Volunteers Introduce Marietta Youths to Fishing

October 17, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

More than 100 local youngsters and their families participated in the Marietta Area Take Kids Fishing Day at scenic Buckeye Park in Marietta, Ohio, on Saturday, October 13. A joint effort by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Division of Wildlife and a consortium of other partners, the free community event was aimed at introducing the next generation of anglers and conservationists to the joys of fishing.

Much to their delight, the youngsters received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing and game calls from Plano Synergy. 

Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk reported that union volunteers representing IBEW Local 968 and Local 972, SMART Local 33, Southeastern Ohio CLC Laborers and Ohio AFL-CIO provided instruction and assistance, which included setting up and baiting the participants’ new fishing poles, plus offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

After fishing, the budding anglers and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, which provided the perfect opportunity to swap fish stories with their mentors.

“Union members are quick to give back to their communities, especially when it involves conservation and youths,” Mauk said. “We were surprised how many local youngsters had never held a fishing pole. Hopefully now that they’ve experienced the sport and have their own fishing equipment, they’ll continue to enjoy the sport for years to come.”

Participants were eager to wet a line with their new rod-and-reel combos, donated by Pure Fishing.

“It was wonderful to have the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Ohio AFL-CIO and union volunteers come together with our local civic team and other partners to make this event a success,” added Susan Joyce, office manager for Marietta’s Public Facilities Department. “The kids loved it and a great time was had by all.”

Event sponsors included the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, JD Waterproofing, Ohio AFL-CIO, Marietta Building Trades, Southeast Ohio Labor Council, the city of Marietta, Pure Fishing, Take Me Fishing and Plano-Synergy.

In preparation for the event, the USA leveraged an ODNR grant to stock the pond at Buckeye Park with trout to bolster already abundant populations of gamefish, including catfish, bluegills and bass. The USA also contracted aquatic vegetation-control services to combat excessive weedgrowth that made the water body difficult to fish.

“Take Kids Fishing Day events aim to educate a future generation of American anglers from diverse communities and backgrounds,” explained USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “As a bonus, Marietta residents will enjoy lasting benefits from the fish stocking and vegetation control efforts at Buckeye Park.”

The Marietta event was one of six free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day activities held in 2018 as part of Work Boots on the Ground – the USA’s flagship conservation program. The other events were held in Barboursville, West Virginia, and Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. In all, a total of 838 youths participated.

“With more than 40 million anglers generating $35 billion in retail sales and $600 million for fisheries conservation and public water access through special excise taxes each year, it’s critical to continue recruiting new anglers,” Stroede added. “Plus, research has shown that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for children to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation,” he said.

USA, Pure Fishing and Allies Rally to Benefit John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

October 3, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

From left: Joined by refuge mascots, USA Conservation and Community Outreach Director Forrest Parker; Jaclyn Rhoads, Friends of Heinz Refuge; DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith; DOI Senior Deputy Director, Intergovernmental and External Affairs Ben Cassidy; and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Manager Lamar Gore.

Representatives of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Department of the Interior (DOI) gathered at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge outside Philadelphia Saturday, Sept. 29 to celebrate Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day and commemorate refuge-enhancement projects supported by a coalition of partners including the USA, fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and local union workers.

The event recognized the importance of such projects, along with the important role urban national wildlife refuges play in protecting wildlife habitat and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for all Americans.

“By celebrating Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day, we highlight the outdoor opportunities available on the doorstep of many of the nation’s urban and suburban residents,” said Interior’s Deputy Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service Jim Kurth. “Urban refuges are places for families to gather and enjoy the outdoors, and places to reach out to the next generation of anglers and hunters, while providing safe access.”

Unfortunately, due to a shortage of staff and funding, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of deferred maintenance projects stands at more than $1.3 billion, including necessary repairs to roads, trails, dams, docks and levees. Adequately supporting maintenance requirements to keep the Service’s infrastructure in good condition is necessary to ensure safe and reliable outdoor recreational access for the American public on their public lands.

Organizations like the USA, aided by union volunteers who donate their time, talents and funding raised at local conservation shoots and dinners, are working to reduce this backlog, restore America’s Refuge System and improve public access to these national treasures.

DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith noted the importance of urban wildlife refuges for conservation and public use, and thanked refuge supporters for donating their time, talents and financial contributions.

Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program (WBG), union volunteers with IAHFIAW Local 14, IUPAT DC 21 and Operating Engineers Local 542 have to date donated more than 200 hours of skilled labor valued at more than $7,100 on a kayak launch dock and observation tower improvements at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, with a variety of additional projects planned.

Donations from Pure Fishing, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation pushed total conservation partner contributions to more than $21,000. The figure will grow as additional projects are completed.

USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker attended the event and presented a check to Jaclyn Rhoads of the Friends of Heinz Refuge on behalf of the partnership.

“We are honored to join forces with these partners in support of the national wildlife refuge system’s efforts to protect a network of lands and waters for conservation for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” said Parker. “And we are extremely proud of the many union volunteers who donate their time and skills to complete projects on refuges and elsewhere in their local communities to help everyone enjoy the outdoors.”   

In honor of Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge hosted a series of outdoor recreation activities for the public including its first-ever 5K race, archery, fishing and kayaking. As part of the fishing component, Pure Fishing donated free fishing rods and reels for union volunteers to distribute to all youths in attendance. Plano Synergy provided game calls as an extra treat for the youngsters.

Attendees of all ages enjoyed the new floating kayak launch, installed by local union volunteers as part of ongoing USA-led conservation projects at the refuge.

USA, UAW Host Youth Fishing Event & Dedicate Piers at Wolftever Creek

September 26, 2018 in Conservation News, Tennessee, Work Boots On The Ground

Kids of all ages wet their lines, Saturday, at a youth fishing event at the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp on Chickamauga Lake outside Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42, the free event celebrated a new courtesy pier and restored fishing pier at the site.

Young boy is excited to receive new fishing gear, compliments of USA’s partner Pure Fishing.

Youth received a complimentary fishing rod and reel provided by Pure Fishing, and some got the chance to catch their first fish with bait provided by Jack’s Bait & Tackle of Chattanooga.

A dedication ceremony following a picnic-style lunch recognized union volunteers from UAW Local 42, Electrical Workers Local 175, Ironworkers Local 704 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 5, who donated approximately 400 hours to improve public access to Chickamauga Lake.

“Chickamauga Lake is one of the top bass fishing lakes in the country and a major attraction for anglers and boaters. UAW Local 42 was thrilled to help a new generation enjoy this valuable resource through today’s event,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The smiles on kids’ faces and the pier dedication were the perfect culmination to the hard work of the 67 union volunteers who made this project possible.”

A dedication ceremony recognized union volunteers, who donated approximately 400 hours to improve public access to Chickamauga Lake.

Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp is one of the area’s most heavily used public accesses to the lake. Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, union volunteers demolished a dilapidated courtesy pier and replaced it with a 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier to provide year-round public access. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe decking and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch, where kids fished during Saturday’s fishing event.

Materials for the project were purchased with $10,000 raised by UAW Local 42 and $22,000 from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

“Access to Chickamauga Lake is a major draw for Harrison Bay State Park, so we are very grateful to the union volunteers who installed the new courtesy pier and refurbished the fishing pier at Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp to benefit both local residents and visitors to the area,” said Harrison Bay State Park Manager Don Campbell.

Little girl goes fishing for the first time with her dad from a pier refurbished by union volunteers.

Working with union partners and industry allies including Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the USA promotes and protects the sport of fishing nationwide through a variety of mentorship, outreach, public access, research and fisheries enhancement projects.

“The pier project and youth fishing event are a great example of a team effort to preserve America’s outdoor heritage,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “Thanks to UAW Local 42’s leadership, all the union volunteers, TWRA, Tennessee State Parks and Pure Fishing, we were able to improve public access to Chickamauga Lake and actively engage kids of all ages in the wonderful tradition of fishing.”

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Recognizes Madison’s Dave Branson as UA Conservation Steward of the Year

September 24, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Dave Branson (center) accepted the 2018 UA Conservation Steward of the Year Award from (left) USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede and Events Manager Kevin Grubbs.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) honored Dave Branson, executive director of the Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin (BTC), with the 2018 United Association (UA) Conservation Steward of the Year Award for his exemplary commitment to conservation and community service.

The award recognizes volunteers from each of the USA’s charter unions who have made exceptional contributions to the USA’s efforts to organize union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills in the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Branson, a member of UA Local 434 from Madison, Wisconsin, has been involved in union construction trades for nearly four decades. He is a longtime supporter of USA youth outreach, conservation and fundraising efforts.

“Dave is a tireless leader who volunteers countless hours each year to support his community and the future of our outdoor traditions,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “His commitment, dedication and willingness to freely give his time and talents underscores why volunteers are our most valuable resource in achieving the USA’s mission.

“For example, Dave organizes our Take Kids Fishing Day events in Madison and Janesville, Wisconsin, which last June alone introduced more than 250 local youths to natural resources conservation and the joys of fishing,” Vance continued. “He is also a driving force behind the USA’s annual AFL-CIO, BTC Madison Area Conservation Dinner, which to date has raised more than $325,000 for conservation. 

“Dave has also spearheaded a number of conservation projects, including the recent renovation of the Vilas Park Fishing Pier on Madison’s Lake Wingra, rallying more than 50 local union volunteers to transform a structure that was literally falling apart into a safe, accessible platform that provides community members of all physical abilities with improved access to this popular fishing lake.”

Dave Branson

USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede and Events Manager Kevin Grubbs presented Branson with the award on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 at the Madison Area Conservation Dinner.

“It’s very gratifying to receive this award,” Branson said. “But I couldn’t have done it without all of the union volunteers from the Building Trades and AFL-CIO who stepped up to make these projects and outreach events come to fruition.”

Branson explained that volunteering offers many benefits. 

“It’s rewarding to teach children about fishing, then see the smiles on their faces as they reel in their first fish,” he said. “Fundraising dinners build relationships between members of different AFL-CIO unions, while raising money to complete projects in our community. Plus, holding outreach events and completing beneficial projects improves relationships between unions and the public, by reminding people that union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to our hometowns.”

The Conservation Steward of the Year selection process begins with the nomination of potential recipients by peers or union leadership. From this pool of nominees, USA staff select individuals who have had the greatest impact on the USA’s mission, represented their unions in the most exemplary fashion, and made the biggest difference in their local community.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Holds Get Youth Outdoors Day

September 19, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

More than 60 youths learned about conservation and hunting while experiencing the thrill of the shooting sports firsthand Sunday, Sept. 16 during the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Organized by the USA and supported by a coalition of union, industry and conservation partners, the event educated boys and girls ages 9 to 17 about wildlife conservation, dog training and other outdoor topics through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

Local organizer Mike Ganz welcomed participants with a talk on wildlife and conservation.

The event was also part of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports. NSSF recently awarded the USA a $30,000 grant to host a series of events in which union volunteers trained in firearms safety and instruction provide hands-on introductions to trap shooting, riflery and archery.

Young shooters learned the basics of safe and responsible riflery on the .22 range.

“The success of this event showcases the great potential for harnessing union members’ love of the outdoors and spirit of volunteerism to help NSSF promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports by increasing participation through First Shots and other programs,” said NSSF Director of Shooting Range Services Zach Snow.”

All supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition were provided at no charge. Each youth also received a goody bag containing free gifts from Plano Synergy, NSSF, USA and other donors. After the event, youths enjoyed a picnic-style lunch with their mentors.

To cap off the free event, attendees were treated to gift bags and a picnic-style lunch.

The event was part of Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and sponsored by partners including Roofers International, NSSF, Savage Arms, Roofers Local 96, BAC Local 1, Central MN BCTC and other local union groups. Sixteen volunteers donated 84 hours to make the day a success. The NSSF grant and funds raised at the annual Roofers Twin Cities Sporting Clays Shoot allowed the event to be held at no cost to participants.

“These kids are the future of conservation and our outdoor heritage,” said Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson, who attended the event and personally coached dozens of youth shooters on the sporting clays range. “Plus, events like this foster relationships among union members from all AFL-CIO unions, and between unions and their communities.”

Roofers International President Kinsey Robinson advises a fledgling sporting clays enthusiast on gun handling and aiming.

“These types of hands-on, interactive youth events are critical to the future of hunting and recreational shooting,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, who was also on hand mentoring shooters on the firing line. “This event in particular is a shining example of the great things that happen when unions and groups like the USA and NSSF join forces to assist American union workers in sharing their passion for the outdoors with the next generation of hunters and recreational shooters.”

“The USA and its union, industry and conservation allies support a variety of youth mentorship programs and outreach events across the nation,” Vance noted. “We are proud to provide opportunities for young people and their families to experience the fun and rewards of recreational shooting, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.”

 

 

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Dedicates Newly Renovated Vilas Park Fishing Pier 


September 19, 2018 in Conservation News, Fishing, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union volunteers join together to celebrate the completion of the USA’s Vilas Park Work Boots on the Ground fishing pier project, improving access to the lake for all.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), volunteers from the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin (BTC) and a crowd of union and community leaders, volunteers, park staff and youths gathered at the newly renovated Vilas Park Fishing Pier in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 14, 2018 to celebrate better public access to popular Lake Wingra.

Using funds raised at the USA’s annual AFL-CIO, BTC Madison Area Conservation Dinner, more than 50 local union volunteers teamed up with the USA and the city of Madison to transform the park’s original floating fishing pier—which was languishing in disrepair in a city storage yard—into a safe structure fully accessible to residents of all physical abilities.

More than $28,000 in materials and nearly $10,000 in union volunteer labor were donated to the project, which was organized under through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program. Volunteers coordinated transportation of the pier to one of the local union shops where over the course of a cold Wisconsin winter, numerous repairs were made, including the installation of new decking and a sturdy railing system.

In preparation for installation of the renovated pier, volunteers and union contractors also designed and constructed a pier abutment as well as a new sidewalk and steps on the edge of Lake Wingra.

Four-year-old Natalie Paull of Madison caught her first fish while fishing with her father, Adam, within minutes of the dedication ceremony.

As a testament to the access the new pier provides community members to Wingra’s panfish, bass and other gamefish, the structure was in use within minutes of the dedication. As union representatives and volunteers packed up to leave, Adam Paull of Madison took his four-year-old daughter Natalie fishing on the new pier. Thanks to the abundant and hungry sunfish schooling a short cast from the dock, she quickly reeled in the first fish of her life.

Natalie was ecstatic, while her father was grateful to the union volunteers, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and other project partners for providing a place to create such priceless memories. “This is great,” he said. “The pier is in the perfect place for us to enjoy the lake together and catch fish.”

City officials were likewise grateful. “I’m deeply appreciative to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and all the trades for making this happen,” said Madison Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp. “The high quality of craftsmanship displayed by these union volunteers is a testament to their commitment to this project and to their community, and marks the continuation of a longstanding tradition of union workers giving back to the city of Madison.”

“The Building Trades Council has been working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for six years to raise funds for conservation projects and Take Kids Fishing youth events,” said project leader BCT Executive Director Dave Branson. “We feel this fishing pier was a good project to give back to the community and make the lake accessible to everyone.”

“The Vilas Park pier project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” added USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This pier provides improved and safer public access for all residents to enjoy the fishery and beauty of Lake Wingra.”

In an outstanding display of solidarity and community service, a coalition of volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to this project: Ironworkers (IW) Local 383, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 13, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) Local 314, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) Local 19, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 159, International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 132, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 113 and 330, Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18, Badger Sheet Metal, Forse Consulting, Ideal Crane, Sullivan Design Build, Terra Engineering and Construction, and Wiedenbeck, Inc.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Expands Youth Events With Tennessee Dove Hunt

September 14, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Mentored hunts are one of many youth outreach events supported by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a perennial supporter of community-based efforts to introduce youths to hunting, conservation and the great outdoors, and the organization was proud to add Tennessee’s 13th Annual Maury County-Steve Brown Memorial Youth Dove Hunt to its list of sponsored events. 

Held Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center outside Spring Hill, the hunt was organized by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Officers Association and a coalition of local organizations and businesses.

More than 40 boys and girls ages 9-17 were treated to a full day of outdoor fun and education capped off by exciting wingshooting over well-managed fields. The event included registration, lunch, clay target shooting, door prizes, safety orientation and the dove hunt, which concluded at sunset. The USA provided backpacks, Plano Synergy game calls and a variety of door prizes.

“Activities like this are a great way to get youths started hunting,” said event organizer TWRA Wildlife Officer Ryne Goats. “Since wildlife agencies in Tennessee and elsewhere are funded primarily by hunting and fishing license sales and taxes on the sale of related equipment, getting youth involved in hunting and fishing also promotes the conservation of all types of fish and wildlife.”

“These types of youth mentored events are critical to the future of hunting, angling and recreational shooting in our nation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance, who was on hand at the hunt. “State agencies across the nation provide these opportunities for young people and their families to experience first-hand the fun, rewarding and unifying aspects of being outdoors with other like-minded people.   

“I encourage everyone to not only participate in these events, but also to find out how you can support and volunteer in your local area,” he added. “The USA is honored to sponsor and support events like this one in not only Tennessee, but many other states as well.”

More than 40 youths participated in the 13th Annual Maury County-Steve Brown Memorial Youth Dove Hunt Sept. 8.

“Funds and manpower for these kind of events are extremely limited,” Goats noted. “So assistance from the USA and other supporters is a tremendous help in making them a success.”

Saturday’s dove hunt was the latest in a series of USA-supported events in 2018. More than 700 youngsters were introduced to the joys of fishing in June during free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events orchestrated by the USA and teams of dedicated union volunteers.

The organization also organizes Get Youth Outdoor Day events, which educate attendees about hunting, firearms safety, recreational shooting, wildlife and conservation through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

The USA also recently received a $30,000 grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to hold a series of pilot events through its Work Boots on the Ground program in which local union volunteers trained in firearms safety instruction introduce participants to shooting disciplines including trap, sporting clays, riflery and archery. The events are part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which teaches first-time shooters about firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

The first of these pilot events is set for this Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 in concert with the USA’s 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day. It will be held at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays Shooting Facility in Clear Lake, Minnesota. Additional events are planned for Tennessee and Texas in 2019.

In addition, the USA and NSSF launched a reward program to thank union members who mentor newcomers to hunting, target shooting and firearms safety in 2018. Working through the USA’s national grassroots support system, international union partners and their locals, the program has already identified more than 1,500 mentors and sent each a complimentary Buck 364 Rival I knife customized with both organization’s logos.

Union Volunteers, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Aid Wyoming Elk Management

August 22, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Hunting, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union volunteers recently collaborated with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to create a custom fence-crossing structure near Etna, Wyoming, that helps wildlife managers maintain healthy herds of free-ranging elk while protecting farmers’ crops from damage.

Volunteers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 322 out of Casper donated 48 hours of skilled labor to install a gate-like “elk jump” along a fence that guides Wyoming elk during migrations between their high-country summer range and lower elevation winter feeding areas.

The volunteers reconfigured the fenceline, set poles, built a retaining wall and erected fencing. Lower Valley Energy provided a boom truck to aid in setting the poles during the project, which was organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

Derek Lemon, habitat and access coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Jackson Region, said the structure will make it easier for managers to safely drive wayward Wyoming elk back onto the right side of the fence.

“An 8-foot-high fence runs roughly 20 miles along the boundary between public and private lands to facilitate elk movement from the mountains to state-run winter feeding grounds,” he explained. “When elk get on the wrong side of the fence, they damage crops and raid haystacks. In response, state game wardens are called in to push the animals back to where they need to be.”

Wyoming Elk

Volunteers secure a retaining wall to the “elk jump” structure.

Elk jumps, which serve as one-way gates, allow wardens to avoid chasing elk all the way to the end of the fence. “An elk jump is basically an opening in the fence with a corner and small ramp on one side, and six-foot drop on the other,” said Lemon. “The animals are willing to jump down to cross the fence, but rarely pass through in the other direction.”

Completion of the new crossing earlier this month considerably shortens the distance wardens must push elk back to public land. “This reduces stress on the animals and allows wardens to focus more time on other enforcement duties,” said Lemon.

“The project was on our to-do list, but we didn’t have the manpower to make it happen,” he added. “Having union volunteers and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance step in was fantastic because it allowed us to get the job done right away. It’s a win for the state, our wildlife and the local community.”

“When we learned of the need for this project, IBEW members jumped at the chance to help,” said IBEW Local 322 member Greg Moyer, who helped lead the construction effort.

“Union members are always interested in doing projects that improve the quality of life in our communities—and are particularly passionate about work that involves hunting, fishing, conservation and mentorship,” Moyer continued. “I’m grateful the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Work Boots on the Ground exist to help us with this community involvement.”

“Wyoming’s wintertime elk feeding program dates back more than a century and is critical to avoiding winter die-offs from starvation,” added USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “The USA is proud to help union members assist the Game and Fish Department in maintaining an abundance of elk that can be enjoyed by all citizens.”

Wyoming Elk

Members of IBEW Local 322 jumped at the chance to help the local elk herd and safeguard farmers’ crops.

USA, NSSF Join Forces to Introduce Youths to the Shooting Sports

August 20, 2018 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

 

shooting sports

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) are joining forces to introduce youths and their families to the enjoyment and rewarding experiences of safe and responsible recreational shooting.

Utilizing a $30,000 NSSF grant, the USA will hold a series of three pilot events through its Work Boots on the Ground program in which union volunteers trained in firearms safety instruction provide participants hands-on introductions to shooting disciplines including trap, sporting clays, riflery and archery.

Thanks to the NSSF grant and funds raised at USA shoots, dinners and other events, all supplies including eye and hearing protection, firearms and ammunition will be provided at no charge.

The USA pilot events will be part of NSSF’s successful First Shots program, which introduces first-time shooters to firearms respect, safety and the shooting sports.

The first pilot event is set for Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 in concert with the USA’s 7th Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day—a free event open to boys and girls ages 9 to 17. The event will be held at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays Shooting Facility in Clear Lake, Minnesota, just north of Minneapolis. Attendees will also learn about wildlife, conservation and other outdoor traditions.

Additional events are planned for Tennessee and Texas in 2019.

“We’re excited to launch this pilot project with NSSF,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American union workers are as passionate about passing our shared outdoor heritage to the next generation as they are about hunting, fishing and shooting. USA Work Boots on the Ground youth projects have engaged thousands of youths, and NSSF’s support will assist us in further expanding these efforts.”

In turn, NSSF Director of Shooting Range Services Zach Snow said his organization is eager to tap union members’ love of the outdoors and spirit of volunteerism in NSSF’s quest to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports by increasing participation.

“Research has revealed a high percentage of hunters and shooters in union households,” he explained. “Working with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to help these folks create new shooters is a great fit for First Shots. We look forward to seeing this project grow and thrive.”

The USA-NSSF alliance follows USA partnerships with fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and conservation champions Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. The USA also recently partnered with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

“Like the relationships with our charter unions and other allies, these agreements help the USA maintain its record-setting growth as we harness the passion, power and skills of Labor of union volunteers to impact the future of North America’s outdoor heritage in communities across the country,” said Vance.

Union Volunteers Expand Boy Scouts’ Camp Meriwether Shooting Sports Facilities

August 14, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Camp Meriwether

Union volunteers helped construct three new ranges at Camp Meriwether.

Union volunteers recently teamed up with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to help complete an ambitious range-expansion project at Oregon’s Camp Meriwether that gives Boy Scouts from across the West Coast an enhanced shooting sports experience.

Sixteen volunteers from the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Local 49 and Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 737 and 296 donated 260 hours of skilled labor to help complete the $800,000 project, which added three new ranges to the popular camp.

The project was organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.
Located in rugged coastal wilderness along the Pacific shoreline near Cloverdale, Oregon, 790-acre Camp Meriwether is considered the flagship of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) Cascade Pacific Council and can accommodate more than 500 campers each day.

Shooting sports including archery, air rifle, rimfire, shotgun and larger caliber firearms are collectively among the Boy Scout’s most popular activities. Yet for years, Camp Meriwether’s facilities were limited to just eight rifle shooting stations, eight archery stations and two shotgun stations.

Camp Meriwether

Sixteen volunteers representing the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers (RWAW) Local 49 and Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 737 and 296 donated their time and talents to the project.

In 2013, the council launched an effort to expand the facilities with a 24-lane rifle range, 24-lane archery range and 10-station shotgun range. After years of planning, fundraising and site prep, the project’s final phase began in 2018. This spring and summer, union volunteers assisted in the framing, sheeting and underlayment for the three new range structures—more than triple the camp’s capacity to introduce youths to the shooting sports.

“The involvement of skilled trade volunteers is so important when a BSA camp takes on a major project,” said Frank Reigelman, BSA’s team lead for outdoor programs and properties. “Volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance enabled Camp Meriwether to expand its shooting sports ranges to serve members with updated facilities. It’s a win-win as union volunteers enjoy an opportunity to help their communities and the camp receives a high-quality program area.”

“Kids from southern California to Washington get together here to learn about the outdoors and experience activities like archery, trapshooting and riflery,” added USA project leader Travis Hopkins, of RWAW Local 49. “This teaches them pastimes they can enjoy for a lifetime. But it also encourages them to expand their horizons and gives them confidence to try new things—which ultimately helps them become strong members of a healthy community.”

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is proud to help hardworking union volunteers expand Camp Meriwether’s facilities,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “The Boy Scouts of America will use these new ranges to teach thousands of youths safe and responsible firearms and archery skills each season for years to come.”

An official dedication ceremony is planned as part of a grand opening celebration at the new range later this summer.

This isn’t the first time the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance has worked with Boy Scouts of America, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Nichols Park Restoration Receives USA 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award

August 2, 2018 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park Restoration

Oklahoma AFL-CIO President Jim Curry and Communications Director Debra Wojtek accepted the 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award from USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance (L) and Director of Conservation Forrest Parker (R) on behalf of the many union partners involved in the Nichols Park restoration.

Union volunteers’ restoration of historic Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, as a community gathering place in the great outdoors has garnered the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2017 Conservation Project of the Year Award.

Including follow-up work in 2018, more than 100 union workers from 23 union locals donated over 2,475 hours of skilled labor valued at nearly $91,000 and raised in excess of $13,000 for materials to complete a variety of critical improvements to the popular park.

Among the upgrades, volunteers replaced a pavilion roof, improved lighting, replaced picnic tables, cleared overgrown areas and replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier. Union volunteers also built and installed a new flagpole at the park entrance and constructed new camp-style barbecue grills.

Part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, the Nichols Park restoration project was a team effort by the USA, the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC).

“This project is a picture-perfect representation of what drives the USA’s mission and how the union community eagerly embraces the opportunity to unite for conservation and community service,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker, who announced the award July 24 at the USA’s annual Conservation Gala in Washington, D.C. “Union volunteers completely transformed an aging, poorly maintained city park into a place where the community can once again come together to enjoy the outdoors.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Union volunteers donated more than $100,000 in labor and materials to restore Nichols Park as a community gathering place in the outdoors.

Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason hailed the project and declared a special “Union Day” in its honor. “Restoring this historic park, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941, was fabulous for our city,” she said. “What union volunteers did would have taken months for city crews to even begin to accomplish. The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.

“We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city,” Clason added. “It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a dream getaway.”

Volunteers from the following unions and groups donated their time and skills to the Nichols Park restoration project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“It feels good being part of something that benefits your community,” said Oklahoma BCTC Executive Director Jimmy Fish. “I’m proudest of the new pier, which gives people a place to fish in the local area. It was very rewarding to see all the kids come down here and catch fish on it during the dedication celebration.”

Nichols Park Restoration

Among the many improvements to the park, union volunteers replaced a dilapidated fishing dock with an ADA-compliant floating pier.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation Join Forces For Conservation

June 26, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release

NWTF

(L-R) USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker and NWTF VP of Conservation Ross Melinchuk signed the agreement pledging the organizations’ cooperation on conservation and the protection of North America’s outdoor heritage.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation on a variety of efforts benefiting conservation and the preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.

Finalized June 26, 2018 at the 85th Annual Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Directors’ Meeting in Bismarck, North Dakota, the agreement outlines strategies to collaborate on campaigns targeting wildlife habitat protection and enhancement, public access, mentorship, outreach and education.

“This partnership is a perfect example of how two very different organizations can unite to influence the future of conservation while increasing mission delivery for both,” said Forrest Parker, USA director of conservation and community outreach.

“We are blessed with highly skilled union volunteers, who each year donate thousands of hours to conservation projects and outreach events across the nation,” he continued. “Our friends at NWTF are also doing amazing things in communities around the country. We are honored to help increase the impact of these efforts, while showcasing the dedication and unwavering commitment of the American union worker.”

The two groups are already joining forces in Michigan, where USA volunteers from the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) Ford Michigan Ramp Team are building NWTF Turkey Tract Kiosks for placement on game management areas around the state. The kiosks, created as part of the USA’s flagship conservation program—Work Boots on the Ground (WBG)—promote public access to quality turkey hunting, educate the public on the benefits of habitat management and conservation, and help build a connection between hunters and the local community.“

We are excited about formalizing our partnership with USA through this MOU and look forward to accomplishing great things together across the landscape via conservation delivery and in support of our hunting heritage,” said Brian Zielinski, senior director of conservation operations for NWTF’s Eastern Region.

Zielinski added, “This is a unique opportunity to combine resources as both organizations have a dedicated base of members and volunteers who are passionate about leaving a legacy and ensuring that both conservation and hunting traditions remain intact for future generations.”

The USA-NWTF alliance comes on the heels of similar agreements between the USA and other conservation partners including fishing industry powerhouse Pure Fishing and upland conservation champion Pheasants Forever. The USA also recently forged partnerships with industry leading product sales group Outtech and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic resources by increasing participation in fishing and boating.

“We are excited to see where these partnerships lead,” said Parker. “Thanks to the dedication of our skilled union volunteers, the USA is uniquely positioned to be a ‘power’ partner for our allies. There is no doubt that a decade from now, these American union workers will be recognized as a driving force for conservation, who played a profound role in preserving our outdoor heritage.”

USA’s Take Kids Fishing Day Events Introduce Youth to Joys of Fishing

June 22, 2018 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Kids Fishing

Take Kids Fishing Day events pair local union volunteers with youths from their communities.

More than 700 youngsters were introduced to the joys of fishing in June 2018 during free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events orchestrated by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and teams of dedicated union volunteers.

A total of 738 youths participated in five USA Take Kids Fishing Days, held in Barboursville, West Virginia, and Eau Claire, Janesville, La Crosse and Madison, Wisconsin. Much to their delight, each youth received a free rod and reel courtesy of Pure Fishing, a game call from Plano Synergy and a chance to put his or her new fishing gear to the test against a variety of freshwater gamefish.

After fishing, the budding anglers and their families were treated to a picnic-style lunch, which provided the perfect opportunity to swap fish stories with their union mentors.

One-hundred twenty volunteers representing 38 local skilled trade unions donated 472 hours of time to make the events a success. Their duties ranged from planning to cleanup, but favorite tasks invariably centered on providing fishing instruction and assistance—which included setting up and baiting the participants’ new fishing poles and offering sage advice on how to hook the big one.

Kids Fishing

USA Take Kids Fishing Day events are free of charge, and participants receive rods and reels courtesy of Pure Fishing.

The events were part of Work Boots on the Ground—the USA’s flagship conservation program—and sponsored by union partners including the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Building and Construction Trades Council of Western Wisconsin, Greater West Central Area Labor Council and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

“Take Kids Fishing Day events aim to educate a future generation of American anglers from diverse communities and backgrounds,” explained USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “With more than 40 million anglers generating $35 billion in retail sales and $600 million for fisheries conservation and public water access through special excise taxes each year, it’s critical to continue recruiting new anglers.”

Stroede noted additional benefits of teaching kids to fish. “Research has shown that outdoor-related activities such as fishing create participatory pathways for children to experience nature and help kindle a lifelong interest in environmental conservation,” he said.

Madison-area Take Kids Fishing Day leader Dave Branson, executive director of the South Central Wisconsin BCTC, explained the allure of volunteering at a youth fishing event. “It’s rewarding to teach children about the sport, then see the smiles on their faces as they reel in their first fish,” he said. “Plus, holding events like this helps build relationships between unions and the public, by reminding people that union members are friends and neighbors who enjoy giving back to our community.”

The nonprofit Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) organizes union volunteers to donate their time and unique trade skills to conservation, outreach, public access, mentorship and education campaigns that preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. Working with union partners and industry allies including Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the USA promotes and protects the sport of fishing nationwide through a variety of mentorship, outreach, public access, research and fisheries enhancement projects.

 

Union Volunteers Completely Transform Vilas Park Fishing Pier

May 31, 2018 in General, Wisconsin, Work Boots On The Ground

Vilas Park

Union volunteers from the South Central Wisconsin Building Trades Council (BTC) teamed up with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) to renovate and reinstall the Vilas Park fishing pier in Madison, Wisconsin, providing better access to the lake for all.

Utilizing nearly $22,000 in funds raised by the USA’s Madison Area Conservation Dinner, union volunteers teamed up with the USA and the city of Madison to take the original floating fishing pier, which was sitting in a state of disrepair in one of the city’s materials yards, and restore it for the public’s use.

“This project was a great opportunity for multiple Union trades to come together and benefit our local community,” said project leader and South Central Wisconsin BTC President/Executive Director Dave Branson. “It’s rewarding to know that this revitalized pier will provide safe and easy access for all to participate in the sport of fishing at Vilas Park.”

Volunteers coordinated transportation of the pier to one of the local union shops where over the course of the cold, harsh Wisconsin winter repairs were made, including the installation of new decking. In preparation for installation of the renovated, now handicap accessible fishing pier, volunteers and union contractors also designed and constructed a pier abutment as well as a new sidewalk and steps on the edge of Lake Wingra in Madison’s Vilas Park, which have greatly increased accessibility to the fishing pier.

“This project is an excellent example of the impact that USA’s skilled union volunteers bring to the future of conservation and preserving our outdoor heritage,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “If it weren’t for their dedication to conservation and their community, there is a very good chance that this pier would have never made its way back to the water for the public’s use.”

More than 30 union volunteers from Ironworkers (IW) Local 383, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Local 13, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) Local 314, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (IAHFIAW) Local 18, International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 132, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 7, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Locals 113 and 330 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 18 donated nearly 200 hours to rebuild and install the previously dilapidated pier.

After completing restoration of the pier, it was transported and installed at its new location at Vilas Park. Volunteers will soon install a new handrailing on the pier to complete this project.

Union Led Wolftever Creek Project Enhances TN Fishing And Boating Access

May 11, 2018 in General, Work Boots On The Ground

Spanning more than 36,000 acres, Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga is a popular destination for anglers and other watersports enthusiasts from within the state and around the country.

Fishing is a prime draw. The scenic reservoir is consistently ranked among the nation’s top bass fisheries and currently holds the Tennessee state records for both largemouth and spotted bass. Recreational boating, waterskiing, kayaking, swimming and camping also attract thousands of visitors each year. Unfortunately, funds to maintain and enhance public access to this crown jewel of the Tennessee River system are chronically tight.

To help remedy the situation, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and a dedicated team of union volunteers stepped up to complete a major overhaul of one of Chickamauga’s busiest access points, the Wolftever Creek Boat Ramp adjacent to Harrison Bay State Park just outside of Chattanooga.

The renovation expanded year-round public access by replacing an existing dilapidated dock with a brand-new, 104-foot-long, handicap-accessible floating pier.

Before Photos:

Union volunteers donated approximately 300 hours of labor to demolish the old dock April 7, install the new pier April 21 and align the structure on April 28. Volunteers also replaced damaged and unsafe floor boards and the top rail of a fishing pier adjacent to the boat launch.

The final phase of the project, set for completion by the end of May, includes the installation of an additional handrail on the pier abutment and transition plates between dock sections. In the meantime, the pier is open for use.

The project was part of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program, which brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and talents to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The WBG program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

The Wolftever Creek project was conducted without the use of state game and fish funds. Materials were purchased with $10,000 raised by United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 and $22,000 in federal marine fuel tax revenues from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). All union labor was donated.

The project originated when UAW Local 42 expressed interest in taking on a community-based conservation project, and USA research revealed strong public support for improvements to the Wolftever Creek ramp.

Demolition & Renovation Photos:

“Unions are always looking for ways to get involved and improve their communities,” said UAW Local 42 President Steve Cochran. “The Wolftever Creek boat ramp was one of the most heavily used access points to the lake, but it was really unsafe and unusable in the winter due to low water levels. Replacing the boat ramp is a project that UAW Local 42 really wanted to get involved in to benefit the public and demonstrate that we care about our community.”

Along with UAW Local 42, participating union members also represent the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 175, Ironworkers (IW) Local 704 and Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 5.

“The Wolftever Creek project is an excellent example of how local unions are positively impacting their communities and the future of conservation through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This dock benefits thousands of fishermen and other recreational boaters who use the Wolftever Creek boat ramp. It not only improves the aesthetic value of this location but provides improved and safer access to all who utilize it.”

TWRA officials were grateful for USA and union volunteers’ assistance in making the Wolftever Creek ramp renovation a reality faster than limited state budgets and manpower could have allowed.

“The donations and hard work of the Union Sportsmen allowed us to accomplish this project more quickly,” said Capt. Matt Clarey, who oversees boat access areas and ramps for TWRA Region III. “We’re pleased to work alongside such great citizens. This partnership will benefit Tennesseans for years to come.”

UAW Local 42 Vice President David Gleeson noted the added benefits of having union members from different trades join forces in pursuit of common goals such as conservation and community service.

“Volunteer projects like the one at Wolftever Creek build comradery and enable members of various union trades to discuss issues,” he said. “We had ironworkers, sheet metal workers and auto workers. But at the worksite, we were all just workers. Nobody had a big head. We just helped one another out with what needed to be done.”

After Photos:

USA Family Outdoors Day Celebrates Ron Schneider Boat Ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park

April 30, 2018 in Missouri, Press Release

Ron Schneider Boat Ramp

More than 250 people gathered on Saturday, April 28 at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri, for Family Outdoors Day, hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Missouri American Water.

The community event included fishing, lunch, live music by the Greg Haney Group and kid’s activities, and the first 150 youth received a fishing rod and reel, courtesy of Pure Fishing.

A ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. marked the official opening of the park’s new, non-motorized Ron Schneider Boat Ramp constructed by union volunteers from Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335, through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program.

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was funded through a $35,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation to improve access to water-based recreation activities. It was named to honor a long-time UWUA Local 335 member who led the first ramp rebuild.

“City parks play a vital role in providing large populations with access to the great outdoors, yet tight budgets can make it difficult to maintain park infrastructure,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water and our skilled union volunteers worked hand in hand to complete the new boat ramp despite weather-related setbacks. The project and Family Outdoors Day are a testament to their commitment to improving their community.”

The Ron Schneider Boat Ramp was completed for the second time on August 13, 2017. In early 2017, union volunteers donated approximately 250 hours to tear out and replace the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition. Less than a week after it was completed in May of 2017, catastrophic flooding damaged 90 percent of new structure beyond repair. Undeterred, project leaders devised a new design to stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance have really done something great for the community of Sunset Hills with this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “I am so proud of the work of Missouri American Water’s employees in helping to get this new boat ramp built – not just once, but twice. Having the flood wash away the first boat ramp was disappointing, but to see the way all the groups came together to persevere and rebuild really shows our collective commitment to this project and this community.”

USA Celebrates Nichols Park Transformation + Hosts Family Fishing Event

March 15, 2018 in General, Oklahoma, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Nichols Park

Henryetta, Ok. — (March 10, 2018) The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Oklahoma State BCTC, and a crowd of more than 250 gathered at Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, today to celebrate the park’s transformation through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program.

Prior to the dedication, volunteers completed one final project at Nichols Park, installing the new pavilion roof. The USA and local conservation partners then hosted a family fishing day full of educational activities and served a free lunch.

Nearly $13,000 was raised for the Nichols Park restoration project at the USA’s Oklahoma AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner held in Tulsa in October 2016. Using funds for materials and equipment, more than 100 volunteers from 23 Union locals and community groups donated approximately 1,325 hours to make major improvements to the park.

Projects included replacing the pavilion roof, improving lighting, replacing and fixing park benches and picnic tables, clearing overgrown areas, and replacing an unsafe fishing pier with an ADA compliant floating pier.

“What was done in a few hours by the Unions would have taken months for the city crews to complete or even begin to accomplish,” said Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason. “The fishing dock would have been years out, if even on the radar due to the dilapidated infrastructure our city faces.”

“The public should know that Unions unite for common goals and advocate for workers in both the public and private sector,” concluded Mayor Clason. “We will be forever thankful to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for making this project happen without cost to our city. It was truly amazing to see our park transformed from a work in progress to a fairy tale dream getaway.”

In an outstanding display of solidarity and community, more than 100 volunteers from the following Unions and groups donated their time and skills to this project: Oklahoma State AFL-CIO; Oklahoma BCTC; OPEIU Local 381; IAHFI Locals 94 and 64; TWU Local 514; UA Locals 344 and 430; IBEW Locals 584, 1002, 1141; NALC Local 442; GMP Local 48; SMART Locals 124 and 270; IUOE Local 627; BAC Local 5; IAMAW Local 850; Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma; LIUNA Local 107; USW; Roofers Local 143; and the city of Henryetta.

“Public parks are a resource that all Americans should cherish and be good stewards of,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Parks provide a variety of benefits including creating safer neighborhoods, engaging local communities and promoting public health in the outdoors. This project is a prime example of what our community-based conservation projects should look like.”

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to Dedicate Newly Restored Nichols Park & Host Family Fishing Day

March 6, 2018 in Oklahoma, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Henryetta, Oklahoma — Union volunteers in the Henryetta Area will volunteer their time and trade skills through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program to complete one final project at Nichols Park in Henryetta, Oklahoma, that will increase public access to the park and lake. To celebrate the newly restored park, the USA will host a family fishing day and a formal dedication following the completion of the project.

WHAT:
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers from the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades will complete the installation of the new pavilion roof. The completion of this project will increase overall use of this resource, promote conservation and the outdoors, encourage participation in fishing, and unite the community through volunteerism. The restoration of Nichols Park will be celebrated with fishing, a free lunch and a formal dedication. View the work day flier here.

WHEN:
Saturday, March 10
Work begins: 9:00 a.m.
Fishing begins: 10:30 a.m.
Lunch served: 11:30 a.m.
Project dedication: 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:
Nichols Park
New Lake Road
Henryetta, OK 74437

DEDICATION SPEAKERS:
Jennifer Clason, Mayor of Henryetta, OK
Jimmy Fish, Project Leader
Jimmy Curry, OK AFL-CIO President
Forrest Parker, USA Director of Conservation & Community Outreach

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Work Boots on the Ground: WBG is the USA’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. WBG works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

USA Dedicates Pier at Jones Point Park: Hosts Youth Fishing Event

November 9, 2017 in Articles, Conservation News, Press Release, Virginia, Work Boots On The Ground

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) and a crowd of more than 200 union and community leaders, volunteers, park staff and youth gathered at a newly restored fishing pier at historic Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia, on November 3, 2017 to celebrate the USA’s 100th conservation project.

Prior to the dedication, the USA and local conservation partners hosted 75 students from Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy for a morning of educational activities and fishing from the new pier as part of the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.

“Ten years ago, I said that the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance would bring more muscle to the conservation movement,” said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president and USA chairman of the board. “As we celebrate the USA’s 100th conservation project, I’m proud to say the USA has become a conservation powerhouse with union volunteers around the country rallying together to benefit our communities and protect, preserve and pass on America’s outdoor heritage while demonstrating what it truly means to be union.”

The restoration project was funded by an AWCF grant of $22,500 along with contributions from the USA Capital Area Conservation Dinner. The pier restoration would not have been possible without the support of many other organizations including: Smoot’s Lumber, Culpeper Wood Preserves, Simpson Strong-Tie, Guest Services Inc., Ullico, Pure Fishing and the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.Jones_Point_Park

More than 100 volunteers from Electrical Workers Local 26, Elevator Constructors Local 10, Iron Workers Local 5, Bricklayers Local 1, Roofers Local 30, Virginia American Water (employees are part of SEIU Local 32BJ), Ullico, Calibre and the Student Conservation Association donated 864 hours to restore the pier. The pier, built in the 1950s, is located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway and managed by the National Park Service. The value of materials and labor for the project topped $50,000.

“Because of rotten wood, loose railings, mismatched boards, uneven surfaces and other hazards, Jones Point Park was in dire need of work to repair the pier and bring it into ADA compliance,” said Allison Silberberg, City of Alexandria mayor, who spoke at the dedication. “Thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the American Water Charitable Foundation and all the dedicated volunteers, the pier will once again provide safe fishing and viewing access to the Potomac River for generations to come.”

To retain the pier’s historic feel, the joists and deck boards were specially milled for the project. The pier’s new handrails contain several specialized locations to accommodate fishing from wheelchairs.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation is proud to have supported the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s 100th conversation project with the $22,500 grant,” said Barry Suits, president, Virginia American Water. “Built with the help of Virginia American Water employees, the new pier will encourage greater interaction with, and appreciation for, the Potomac River—one of the sources of Alexandria’s drinking water supply—and an important water resource for our nation.”

This conservation project is the USA’s 100th since it launched its Work Boots on the Ground program in 2010. The program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle hands-on, community-based conservation projects.

“Our public lands are a treasure for all Americans, but they’re at risk of falling into disrepair with budget cuts and a $12 billion maintenance backlog,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Our 100th Work Boots on the Ground project is a shining example of public and private partners and dedicated volunteers coming together to restore, conserve and protect our parks, their legacy and critical infrastructure for all Americans to enjoy for generations to come.”

USA Hosts Get Youth Outdoors Day in Pine Bluff, AR

October 29, 2017 in Conservation News, Press Release

Nearly 200 youth, plus guardians, participated in a day filled with outdoor activities at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Get Youth Outdoors Day at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Pond in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on October 21.

The USA’s Get Youth Outdoors Day engaged both youth and adults in hands-on activities including learning how to fish and shooting archery and air guns. Volunteers from USA, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas AFL-CIO provided fishing instruction and conservation education. Participants also enjoyed lunch provided by Arkansas AFL-CIO, and youth received free fishing gear courtesy of Pure Fishing.

“Get Youth Outdoors Day is a great example of the efforts needed to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage through hands-on events that instill a love for the outdoors in today’s youth,” said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Family and Community Fishing Program Coordinator Maurice Jackson. “We are proud to say we played a part in introducing so many kids to those opportunities.”

“The USA seeks to promote our outdoor heritage through mentoring the next generation of sportsmen and women,” said USA Conservation Manager Robert Stroede. “This event provided the perfect opportunity to interact with youth in the community who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience all that the outdoors have to offer.”

According to a recent survey conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, released in September, the U.S. has experienced a net loss of 2 million hunters in just the last five years. Since 1980, hunter numbers have fallen from nearly 18 million to the current estimate of 11.5 million. Youth are growing more and more disconnected from the outdoors, America is losing wildlife habitat at an alarming rate, and access to quality outdoor experiences are becoming more difficult to find. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to preserving our heritage.

Union Volunteers Revitalize Dayton, Ohio’s Lakeside Lake

October 15, 2017 in Conservation News, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley joined the Ohio AFL-CIO, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and local volunteers and community leaders on the shore of West Dayton’s Lakeside Lake on October 11, to celebrate recent improvements and amenities.

USA Conservation Manager Rob Stroede, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, PineView Neighborhood President Lisa Rucker and Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga dedicate the new floating fishing pier at Lakeside Lake.

As part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, members of the Ohio AFL-CIO partnered with the City of Dayton and CityWide, the City of Dayton’s development partner, to restore and improve Lakeside Lake as one phase of a broad redevelopment plan for West Dayton.

“Lakeside Park historically was a popular amusement park for Dayton. Local citizens are working to bring Lakeside back,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and its coordination with the Ohio AFL-CIO have made the restoration of Lakeside Lake possible. Our community is honored to have support from the Ohio AFL-CIO and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance in this effort to revitalize West Dayton.”

Over the past six months, more than 100 volunteers from local unions and the community participated in four cleanups to clear out invasive honeysuckle and trash along the water’s edge to restore the beautiful vista. In September, volunteers from Ironworkers local 290 constructed two custom park benches, which were painted by IUPAT Local 249 members. Volunteers from OPCMIA local 132 and LIUNA Local 1410 poured concrete pads for the two benches and a pier abutment for the new fishing pier. Union volunteers then assembled and installed a floating fishing pier on Oct. 11, before a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of this phase of the lake’s restoration.

More work is scheduled to take place at the site over the coming months including improved pathways, lighting, parking and signage. In addition to volunteering their time and skills, local union members raised more than $25,000 through the USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner to contribute to the restoration project.

“The Ohio AFL-CIO is pleased to advance the mission of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance that celebrates the great outdoors and supports local communities in the city of Dayton,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “We are grateful to Mayor Whaley, the local building and construction trades, the local labor council, union volunteers and city employees that made this project a reality for all to enjoy.”
The Lakeside Lake project was made possible by the following unions: Dayton MV Regional Labor Council, AFSCME Council 8, IBEW Local 82, Laborers’ Local 1410, Ironworkers Local 290, IUPAT Local 249, OPCMIA Local 132, USW Local 5541, UA Local 189, Dayton Newspaper Guild.

“The USA’s Ohio State Conservation Dinner is the perfect example of how USA dinners rally local unions in solidarity for community service,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “We couldn’t be more proud of all the unions and union members that have contributed to the success of the Ohio State dinner and the many conservation efforts they have supported.”

Many Dayton residents have fond memories of visits to Lakeside Lake, which offered fishing and scenic views before it became overgrown. CityWide made the restoration of the lake part of its community development strategy, believing its beautification is essential to community confidence and the ability to attract additional investment to West Dayton.

Union Volunteers Rebuild Boat Ramp Destroyed by Floods

September 6, 2017 in Conservation News, General

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Missouri American Water and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 union volunteers completed construction of a non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Mo., for the second time this year, on August 13.

The ramp was less than a week old when catastrophic flooding destroyed the newly poured concrete in May. Undeterred, the three project partners devised a design they believe will stand up to flood waters from the Meramec River.union volunteers

“Flood waters destroyed nearly $12,000 of volunteer labor and materials invested at the Minnie Ha Ha Park and resulted in the cancellation of our dedication ceremony and paddling event, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our dedicated union volunteers and partners at American Water,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “American Water pledged an additional $15,000 in grant money to repair the ramp, and volunteers once again gave their time and skills to reconstruct it for the benefit of the entire community.”

During the original project, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance volunteers spent approximately 250 hours tearing out the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition, and then grading, framing, laying rebar and pouring new concrete. The project was finished in late April and mere days later, historic flooding damaged 90 percent of the structure beyond repair.

Union volunteers returned to Minne Ha Ha Park in early August and spent another 260 hours completing the project once again. To help the ramp weather future flooding, volunteers poured more, deeper footing all the way up the ramp and placed larger rocks on its upriver side.

“A lot of people kayak and canoe the Meramec River, and the old boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park was in pretty bad shape for the past 10-15 years,” said UWUA Local 335 President Allan Bathon. “Union members make a decent living, so we are able to give back by donating our trade skills and money to projects like this that benefit our community.”

“I am proud of the way Missouri American Water, Local 335 and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance came together to build this boat ramp,” said Cheryl Norton, president of Missouri American Water. “It says a lot about the determination of those involved that they wouldn’t let Mother Nature and severe flooding defeat their efforts to get this boat ramp built.”

The new ramp was one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) to support USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities. A ramp dedication and paddling event, originally scheduled for May 2017, is being planned for the spring of 2018.

See Project Photos HERE.

American Water Charitable Foundation Awards $22,500 Grant for USA’s 100th Conservation Project

August 25, 2017 in Conservation News, Virginia

The American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) has provided a grant of $22,500 to support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) 100th Work Boots on the Ground project at the historic Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Va.

Jones Point Park fishing pier

The USA will support the National Park Service by replacing a fishing pier at the park originally constructed in 1950 that is in critical need of repair.

The AWCF grant helps cover expenses to rebuild the fishing pier. Virginia American Water provides drinking water service to the City of Alexandria, and the company’s Alexandria District employees will help rebuild the pier by supplying some of the skilled union workers to complete a portion of the project. SEIU Local 32BJ covers Virginia American Water field operations employees in Alexandria.

“The American Water Charitable Foundation is proud to again support the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance with this grant, which is vital to rebuilding the fishing pier at Alexandria’s Jones Point Park,” said Laura Martin, AWCF president.

Located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Jones Point Park is just a few miles from Washington, DC, and is an important urban park with fishing and boating access to the Potomac River.

“Built with the help of Virginia American Water employees, the new pier will encourage greater interaction with, and appreciation for, the Potomac River—one of the sources of Alexandria’s drinking water supply—and an important water resource for our nation,” said Barry Suits, president, Virginia American Water.

This conservation project is the USA’s 100th since it launched its Work Boots on the Ground program in 2010. The program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle hands-on, community-based conservation projects.

“Our public lands are a treasure for all Americans, but they’re at risk of falling into disrepair with budget cuts and a $12 billion maintenance backlog,” said USA CEO & Executive Director Scott Vance. “Our 100th Work Boots on the Ground project is a shining example of public and private partners and dedicated volunteers coming together to restore, conserve and protect our parks, their legacy and critical infrastructure for all Americans to enjoy for generations to come.”

National parks are funded through multiple sources in congressional appropriations, but in recent years have been insufficient to keep up with the deferred maintenance on park roads, bridges, trails, historic structures, campgrounds and other facilities. As recently as 2015, the National Park Service received just 58 cents of every dollar it needed just to keep the repairs backlog from growing.

The Jones Point Park project marks the seventh joint conservation project between the USA and AWCF since 2015. In total, the USA has received $175,500 in AWCF grants for projects that improve public access to water-based recreational opportunities or enhance the environmental sustainability of existing recreational areas in Tennessee, Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A formal pier dedication is planned for November 2017.

USA and UAW-Ford Michigan Ramp Team Construct Accessible Hunting Blinds

August 15, 2017 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) volunteers from United Auto Workers (UAW) Ford Michigan Ramp Team in Michigan began construction to build accessible hunting/wildlife viewing blinds for the Sharonville State Game Area in Grass Lake, Michigan.

The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle community-based conservation projects. This project was developed in partnership with Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MiOFO) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It will utilize funds raised at the USA’s Greater Lansing Labor Council Conservation Dinner along with materials and labor donated by UAW-Ford under the direction of Vice President Jimmy Settles and Bill Dirksen.

Materials for the project will top $3,000 and take more than 45 hours of skilled labor to complete. After the blinds are constructed, three 8 ft. x 8 ft. box blinds with custom features, including window ledges at wheelchair height and a 4-foot door for track chair entry, will be delivered and used by guests recreating through MiOFO events on the state game area this fall.

A dedication for the project will take place on August 24, 2017 at 11 a.m. near the shooting range at the Sharonville State Game Area. Action track wheelchairs will be available for use, courtesy of Brian Reno of Michigan Outdoor Mobility, who has donated use of the chairs for other MiOFO events for the past three years. Following the dedication ceremony, attendees are invited to stay for a BBQ style lunch and trap shoot.

Conceptualized in 2013, MiOFO improves outdoor recreation opportunities for wounded veterans and individuals with health challenges and coordinates a support network that facilitates their recovery through connecting with nature.

“The work of Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors to provide the public – including those with special needs—with the opportunity to enjoy nature compliments the USA’s efforts to improve public access to the outdoors,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “We are thankful to all the groups involved, especially the Lansing Area AFL-CIO and UAW- Ford Michigan Ramp Team, for working with us to support MiOFO’s mission.”

MiOFO President and Founder Thomas Jones planted the seed of a joint project after learning about the USA through the Michigan BCTC. Glenn Freeman, president of the Lansing Area AFL-CIO, connected the USA with Sheila Pedersen, UAW-Ford community service liaison at the United Way of Washtenaw County, and she secured UAW volunteers to get the project underway. As a result of the project, Defender Mobility, a veteran charity, has agreed to donate a brand-new Track Fab chair to MiOFO, and Garmin International is working with MiOFO to introduce new technologies on the track chairs and blinds this year.

“It’s really awesome how so many groups have come together on a project that will benefit the entire community,” Pedersen said.

“The work these volunteers are doing is a great service to their country,” said Thomas Jones. “By reintegrating those we serve to the outdoors, we are reintegrating them to a quality of life they may have lost. Disabled veterans and individuals with health challenges deserve access to the same areas as the general public. These blinds are in the three best areas to harvest a sunrise or a trophy buck. We are giving them community, comradery and the independence to enjoy freedom outdoors.”

As the USA celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it is nearing its 100th Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project. The WBG program brings together skilled union volunteers to tackle community-based conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Hosts Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park

June 20, 2017 in Conservation News, General, Press Release

More than 200 youth and adults turned out for a weekend packed with outdoor activities at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tenn., on June 10 and 11.

According to the Outdoor Foundation’s study on youth participation in the outdoors, the U.S. is facing an unprecedented public health and conservation problem as the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors amidst changing technological and social landscapes. Reconnecting youth with the outdoors is critical to the health of future generations as well as the health of our natural landscapes.

The USA’s Family Campout engaged both youth and adults in hands-on activities including a youth fishing derby, wildlife calling contest, snake and birds of prey exhibition and conservation education. Many youth got the chance to shoot a bow for the first time thanks to a mobile archery unit provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Participants also enjoyed delicious meals, and youth received fishing gear and t-shirts.

The free, public event was made possible with support from the Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pure Fishing, Montgomery Bell State Park and the TWRA. Nashville BCTC President Anthony Nicholson and Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus were instrumental in the success of the event from promotion to volunteer recruitment to coordination.

“As we grow our community outreach programs, we want to create fun, safe learning environments that enable families to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors,” said Scott Vance, CEO & Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Our first Family Campout at Montgomery Bell State Park accomplished just that. We’re thrilled to have brought together more than 200 youth and adults for activities that will leave a lasting impression and inspire a love of the great outdoors.”

Less than an hour drive west of Nashville, Montgomery Bell State Park has been the site of several USA Work Boots on the Ground projects, which bring together union volunteers to tackle conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, wildlife habitats and outdoor experiences for communities across America. In 2013, USA volunteers rebuilt a bridge at the park that was washed away in the 2010 flood, and in 2015, they restored a cabin utilized by local Boy Scouts that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937.

Click HERE for more photos.

USA and Kentucky American Water Dedicate New Pier with Ribbon Cutting & Family Fishing Day

May 16, 2017 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Franklin, TN — More than 180 youth wet their lines at a fishing event at Jacobson Park in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 13 hosted by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Kentucky American Water to celebrate the park’s volunteer-constructed fishing pier, which was dedicated on May 12.

The new handicap accessible/ADA compliant pier and sidewalk, valued at more than $33,500, was a joint effort between the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) program and the American Water Charitable Foundation’s (AWCF) Building Better Communities Initiative. The pier is one of six projects funded through a $150,000 grant from AWCF to support USA volunteer projects that improve access to water-based recreation activities.

Union volunteers from the National Conference of Fireman and Oilers (NCFO) Local 32BJ SEIU, Central Kentucky Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) and Laborers Local 189 donated approximately 414 hours to excavate and form the site, pour concrete, assemble the pier sections and install handrails, wrapping up the project in December 2016.

On Friday, USA, Kentucky American Water and Lexington Parks and Recreation staff along with union volunteers gathered under a pavilion, due to heavy rain, to dedicate the fishing pier with a speaking presentation, ribbon cutting and plaque unveiling.

“The ribbon cutting marked the completion of the fourth project the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance completed with funding from American Water Charitable Foundation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “USA conservation projects and accompanying community outreach events like the free family fishing day allow union members to give back to their local communities – something they are passionate about.”

On Saturday morning, youth and adults from across the community lined the banks of Jacobson Park reservoir to cast for channel catfish and trout with new fishing rods and reels, tackle and tackle boxes provided free to all the kids who attended through the USA’s partnership with Pure Fishing. USA, Kentucky American Water and Lexington Park and Recreation staff along with volunteers from Kentucky Laborers’ District Council and LIUNA Local 189 provided instruction and assistance to participants, including many first-time anglers.

As the USA celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it is nearing its 100th WBG project. The WBG program brings together skilled union volunteers to tackle community-based conservation projects that improve public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The fishing event at Jacobson Park marked the USA’s 15th youth fishing event and the first in Kentucky.

“Kentucky American Water is committed not only to providing safe, clean drinking water to its customers but also to being a good corporate citizen,” said Nick Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water and senior vice president of American Water’s Southeast Division. “We appreciate the unique partnership we’ve had with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, the American Water Charitable Foundation and our employees in making the new fishing pier at Jacobson Park a reality and hosting the Kentucky Fishing Derby. Our collaboration will have a positive impact on the community for many years to come.”

“The new pier provides safe and easy access for citizens with handicaps and families to enjoy the fishing available at Jacobson Park,” said Brian Rogers, deputy director of Parks and Rec, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. “We are so thankful to the USA, Kentucky American Water and the union volunteers who donated their time and skills to complete the project and organize the event that introduced families throughout Lexington to the joy of fishing.”

Speakers at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony:
Mike d’Oliveira, USA Deputy Director
Nick Rowe, President of Kentucky American Water
Michelle Kosieniak, Lexington Parks and Recreation Superintendent of Planning & Design
Jeremy Jenkins, Business Manager of Laborers Local 189
David Winer, Chief Union Steward for National Conference of Firemen & Oilers Local 32BJ SEIU
Robert Akin, Central Kentucky Building & Construction Trades Council President
Mark Isaacs, Kentucky Laborers’ District Council President/Business Manager

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT.

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Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The USA is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): Work Boots on the Ground is the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

Kentucky American Water:Kentucky American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately half a million people. The company earned Best Place to Work in Kentucky honors in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. For more information, visit www.kentuckyamwater.com.

American Water Charitable Foundation:Established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen, and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support American Water employee-identified nonprofit endeavors. More information can be found at www.amwater.com.

Alaskan Union Volunteers Build Public Use Cabins

November 14, 2016 in Alaska, Articles, Conservation News, General, Work Boots On The Ground

ALASKAN UNION VOLUNTEERS BUILD PUBLIC USE CABINS

National Elk Refuge ‘Shed’ Shed Project

June 15, 2016 in Articles, Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground, Wyoming

elk_700There are few sights more awe-inspiring than thousands of elk gathered in a valley bounded by the rugged Teton Mountains carving the Wyoming sky.

Located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the National Elk Refuge has been a winter feeding ground for the Jackson elk herd since 1912.  Though established for the elk, the refuge also serves as a home for bison, pronghorn, wolves, moose, deer, bighorn sheep as well as a variety of migratory birds and small mammals.

Maintaining the refuge habitat and managing such a large elk herd is a costly affair, but luckily, the bulls pay room and board in the form of the valuable antlers they drop, often called sheds, before leaving the refuge for their summer range.

Through a partnership that’s been in place for almost 50 years, approximately 200 youth, leaders and parents from the Jackson District Boy Scouts help the refuge staff collect the antlers each spring.  Scout leaders then sort, bundle, weigh and tag the antlers in preparation for an annual public antler auction the local troops organize the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend.

This year, the antlers tipped the scales at more than 11,000 pounds and raised approximately $175,000.  Of the money raised, 75 percent goes to the National Elk Refuge for habitat enhancement and research and 25 percent is given to the Jackson District Boy Scouts.

Where are thousands of pounds of antlers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars stored from the time they are collected until late May?  That’s a challenge the National Elk Refuge has grappled with for years. The antlers are stored in several locations, displacing refuge equipment and storage space for employees. The staff work around the antlers until the time for the auction draws near, and the storage space has reached its capacity.

“We’ve always known there was a need to get all the antlers in one secure facility, but there were so many other priorities, and money is tight,” Dippel said.

That won’t be an issue next year, thanks to a group of IBEW Local 322 volunteers led by a Local 322 organizer, Bruce Johnson.

elk_275Johnson had long been interested in organizing a USA conservation project, and after he connected with USA staff at the 2015 IBEW Membership Development Conference, the USA reached out to the Department of the Interior (DOI) to identify Wyoming conservation projects in need of manpower.  Among those projects was the construction of a 20×26 foot storage shed with electric and heat to securely store the antlers.  It was the ideal project, according to Johnson, who said most of the volunteers are avid elk hunters like him.

From the start, the project was a shining example of collaboration and community spirit.  Lower Valley Energy donated the use of a line truck for the project, and a couple of its employees volunteered their time to relocate an existing gas line where the new shed was to be built.  Before framing began, local Boy Scout Nathan Watson assisted Kevin Anderson, a scout leader and owner of Four Corners Concrete, Inc. in prepping and pouring the pad that forms the shed floor for his Eagle Scout service project.

Because IBEW Local 322 represents carpenters, painters, mechanics and other wage workers at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park in addition to inside electricians and linemen, the 35-40 volunteers who built the shed brought a diversity of skills and equipment to the project, and NECA contractors graciously donated the material to wire the structure.

Jack Shinkle, Historic Preservation Carpenter for the National Park Service, served as the advisor for the construction while Steve LaRosa, Heavy Equipment Operator for the National Park Service, handled logistics, job assignments and safety.

In addition to benefiting the National Elk Refuge and local Boy Scout troops, the new shed “is a way to showcase that union people are sportsmen and do care about the outdoors,” said Johnson, who explained that he often uses the outdoors as a way to reach across boundaries and find common ground with non-union electricians.

“This refuge would not get along without volunteers.  We just don’t have enough staff to handle everything that is going on,” Dippel said.  “We are honored to have the presence and expertise of the union volunteers.  It’s just invaluable.”

Dept. of the Interior Secretary Jewell and AFL-CIO President Trumka Cut Ribbon at Trinity River NWR Boardwalk

April 20, 2016 in Conservation News, Texas, Work Boots On The Ground

Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Chairman and AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff and members of the community joined together on March 17 to dedicate a new boardwalk connecting the city of Liberty, Texas, with the nearby Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) with a ribbon cutting ceremony and plaque unveiling.

trinityLocated approximately 40 miles northeast of Houston, the 30,000-acre Trinity River NWR lies within the largest floodplain basin in Texas. The boardwalk represents the culmination of the largest conservation effort thus far under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2014 between the U.S. Department of the Interior, AFL-CIO and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) that pairs the USA’s volunteer-based Work Boots on the Ground conservation program with shovel-ready projects on public lands that, due to budgetary constraints and cutbacks, lack critical resources.

Constructed by volunteers from the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council, the Palmer Bayou Boardwalk is an intrinsic piece of Trinity River NWR’s From Crosswalks to Boardwalks initiative and allows hikers to traverse more than 500 feet of wetlands, access 13 miles of trails and have a more intimate view of the bayou.

“The Palmer Bayou Boardwalk is a great example of the importance of volunteers to rebuild, renew and restore our country’s national parks and national wildlife refuges,” Secretary Jewell said. “I applaud the AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for their collective effort and foresight in bringing together numerous volunteers whose invaluable contributions make a significant impact on important conservation projects nationwide. This boardwalk offers visitors, especially families, access to nature and some of America’s most unique wildlife.”

Weather conditions and more than 100 days of flooding at the refuge delayed the completion of the boardwalk and further complicated the already challenging project.  Once flood waters receded, volunteers carried nearly $60,000 worth of concrete piers and construction materials on foot through the swamp to prevent vehicles from getting stuck in the mud.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance brings a lot more muscle to the conservation movement,” Trumka said.  “The volunteers who built the boardwalk at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge gave up numerous weekends, planned out the work zone, brought in and operated machinery and heavy materials all in the face of intense heat, mosquitoes and a lot of mud and muck.  To every conservation project USA volunteers take on, they bring an unmatched work-ethic, superior trade skills and a desire to give back to their community.”

“This project is a success story about how partnerships among agencies, communities and volunteers working together can accomplish great things,” said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Dr. Benjamin Tuggle. “I’m especially enthusiastic for schools to use the boardwalk as an outdoor classroom, directly connecting the next generation with nature and conservation.”

Western WI AFL-CIO Take Kids Fishing Day Wins State Award

March 10, 2016 in Conservation News, Press Release

LA CROSSE, WI (March 9, 2016) – The Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO is pleased to announce that the council will be awarded the “Wisconsin AFL-CIO Community Service Event Award” on March 11 for its annual “Take Kids Fishing Day” events.

2014-6-02 Bill Brockmiller, president of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO, will accept the award on behalf of the council at 8:45 a.m. during the annual Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Community Services Conference.  This year, the conference will be at the Radisson Hotel on Second Street in La Crosse.

Back in 2012, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program teamed up with the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO to host a Take Kids Fishing Day at Pettibone Lagoon in La Crosse.  The West Central AFL-CIO started a similar event in Eau Claire in 2013, and the South Central Building & Trades Council added its own event last year in Madison. The fifth annual Take Kids Fishing Day in La Crosse is scheduled for June 4.

“Take Kids Fishing Day is the perfect opportunity to educate our youth on the benefits of fishing and spark a lifelong interest in the sport,” said USA Conservation Manager Ty Brown. “It’s also a great way to show families the abundance of public access opportunities available in their communities.”

This unique event is free and open to the public – especially under-privileged kids and handicapped adults who might not otherwise have a chance to learn about fishing.

Fishing poles, bait, lunch and a picnic style lunch are provided free of charge to all attendees. To ensure that no child leaves empty-handed, all kids participating in the La Crosse event get a door prize such as fishing rods and reels, lures or tackle items.

“Those who won fishing poles, of course, wanted to use them, so we had volunteers busy rigging them up,” said Terry Hayden, president of the Western Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council and business manager of UA Local 434. “Being connected with nature as a youth helps build a healthy respect for the world we live in.”

For children less inclined to fish, face painting and temporary tattoos are provided free of charge by members of OPEIU Local 277.

Since the first La Crosse event in 2012, union volunteers have mentored more than 420 kids, more than 100 attendees are expected this year.

In La Crosse, members of the following locals have been seen pitching in and helping make the event a success; OPEIU Local 277, LIUNA Local 268, IAMAW Locals 21 & 1115, IAMAW District Lodge 66, AFTW Local 3605, UA Local 434, AFSCME Locals 1449, 1914, 1449, 2484 and 2748, ATU Local 519, AFSCME Retirees Chapter 7-Subchapter 101, BLET Local 13, IBEW Local 14, IAFF Local 127, BMWE Local 1965, OPCMIA Local 599 BCT&GM Local 22.

“Not only do kids love to fish, but it’s satisfying for grown-ups to watch a kid who’s all smiles while catching a fish,” said Brockmiller. “There’s no better time than now to get a kid hooked on fishing.”

Dave Branson, executive director, Building & Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin agreed:  “For me, the best part of the event was seeing the smiles on all the kids’ faces. I loved being able to interact with everyone there. Not only was it successful, it was fun. Everybody had a great time.”

WI | Chimney Swift Bird Tower

January 28, 2016 in Conservation News, Wisconsin, Work Boots On The Ground

Wisconsin Union Volunteers Build Home for Displaced Birds

As dusk’s grey subtly mutes day’s blues and golds, and shadows from behind assume the foreground, a plume of earth and ash colored birds ascends from a chimney like a rush of smoke from an evening fireplace – hundreds of them. Flittering and fluttering, twisting and turning, they stalk and eat all the flying insects they can before descending back into their rooftop home for a good night’s rest of vertically-perched slumber.

Building & Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin volunteers built and installed a chimney swift roosting tower at Cherokee Park in Madison, Wisconsin.

Left to right: Building & Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin Steve Ketelboeter, Elevator Constructors Local 132; Dave Branson BCTC of South Central Wisconsin executive director; Andy Shultis, Iron Workers Local 383 (retired); Antony Anastasi, Iron Worker Local 383; Spencer Statz, Plumbers Local 75; and Lisa Goodman, Electrical Workers Local 159 stand in front of the completed chimney swift bird tower at Cherokee Park in Madison, Wisconsin.

The chimney swift is a species that had to adjust to dwindling habitats. Their natural roosting places were hollow trees, but as civilization expanded, these modest birds began to take refuge in chimneys. With advanced heating methods becoming more prominent, many structures aren’t built with chimneys, and numerous existing chimneys are being capped off, creating another housing crisis for the chimney swift.

As part of Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) flagship conservation program, union volunteers from the Building & Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin constructed and installed an 18-foot-tall chimney swift tower at Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park in Madison, Wisconsin, on Oct. 17, 2015.

“Enhancing wildlife habitats is a key component of the Work Boots on the Ground program,” said USA Conservation Manager Ty Brown. “The chimney swift tower falls perfectly in line with our mission, so it was easy to say yes to this project.”

To complete the tower, 15 union members donated their expertise and more than 100 skilled man-hours on the project. First, they built the tower offsite, which included measuring, cutting and fastening wood materials together, staining the tower and building a stainless steel predator shroud for the top, according to Project Manager Spencer Statz, a member of Plumbers Local 75. Once constructed, the volunteers transported the tower to Cherokee Park on a trailer. They dug a 3-foot by 3-foot hole, 4 feet deep, placed rebar in the hole and erected the tower with a SkyTrak forklift donated by Ideal Crane Rentals, before pouring concrete for a secure base.

Project volunteers represented Plumbers Local 75, Elevators Constructors Local 132, Painters & Allied Trades Local 802, Steamfitters Local 601, Electricians Local 159, Iron Workers Local 383 and Operative Plasters & Cement Masons Local 599. Funds raised at the USA’s 2014 Madison Conservation Dinner covered project costs, and the idea came about when Statz approached a local conservation group called the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, who suggested the nesting tower.

“It all started when I was 6 years old,” said Statz. “My brother and I enjoyed fishing on the Yahara River, which runs through Cherokee Marsh. Over the next 30 years, I enjoyed rabbit, pheasant, waterfowl, turkey and deer hunting in the same area. When our (Building & Construction Trades Council) was looking for a project to do, it was a no-brainer for me; I wanted to give back to the wildlife area that brought me so many great memories growing up.”

Friends of Cherokee Marsh President Jan Axelson shared Statz’s enthusiasm for the project: “We were delighted when union workers came to us to volunteer,” she said. “We had wanted to build a swift tower, but we didn’t have the skills, materials or funding to pull it off, so having skilled union workers build it was a dream come true. They did a beautiful job, and we are totally pleased.”

Whether enhancing wildlife habitats, improving public access to the outdoors, restoring America’s parks or mentoring youth in the outdoors, the common denominator is community service, which is the heart of WBG.

“Our members live and work in this community,” said Statz. “So, I can’t think of a better way to give back to the places that made us who we are today.”

WV | Coonskin Park Fishing Pier

December 2, 2015 in Conservation News, General, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and West Virginia American Water Complete New Accessible Fishing Pier at Coonskin Park

A new fishing pier at Coonskin Park designed to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities was unveiled at a ribbon cutting today by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), West Virginia American Water and local union volunteers. The project, valued at $60,000, is a joint effort between the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground volunteer conservation program and the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities initiative.

CuttingImageThe completed project includes three handicap designated parking spots, concrete ramp from the parking lot to the pier, retaining wall alongside the new ramp and large wheelchair accessible floating dock with handrails. The American Water Charitable Foundation partially funded the project with a $25,000 grant, which was awarded to USA earlier this year. The Foundation supported three conservation projects that improve public access to water-based recreation activities in Tennessee, Illinois and West Virginia. West Virginia American Water contributed an additional $10,000 to the project, and a number of local businesses donated services and materials.

“This is the third project we have completed with funding from the American Water Charitable Foundation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Fred Myers. “These projects allow us to give back to communities where American Water serves and where our members live and recreate.  West Virginia American Water went the extra mile by donating extra funds to ensure a successful endeavor. This partnership has been positive for everyone involved, and I hope to see it grow in the near future.”

USA organized a group of skilled union volunteers through the Charleston Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO to complete the project, located on the south side of Coonskin Lake near the Elk River Trail.

“More than half of West Virginia American Water’s 300 employees are represented by unions, and they are among the most talented and skilled professionals in the state,” said Jeffrey McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water. “We are proud to support this Work Boots on the Ground project, which will enhance the outdoor experience of our customers, our employees and their families.”

During the ribbon cutting, West Virginia AFL-CIO president Kenny Perdue stated how pleased his organization was to partner with West Virginia American Water in making Coonskin Park more accessible to everyone.

“So many of our members volunteer to work with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance because it combines their love of the outdoors and hunting with their desire to use their skills to give back to their communities,” Perdue said. “We are grateful to Paul Breedlove of the Charleston Building Trades for taking the lead on organizing the project, and to the many volunteers from the Carpenters, Finishers, Electrical Workers, Operating Engineers, Ironworkers, Laborers, Pipefitters, Roofers and Sheet Metal locals.

Jeff Hutchinson, director of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission, applauded the project and stated that the park was honored to receive this generous gift. “The addition of the new fishing pier will allow the lake to be more accessible for citizens with disabilities and will increase usage of the lake by all Kanawha County citizens,” Hutchinson said.

IL | Canoe & Kayak Trail

October 29, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

USA, Illinois American Water Cut Ribbon for Illinois River Canoe & Kayak Trail

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), Illinois American Water and Greater Peoria Economic Development Council held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 29, at 11 a.m., to mark the completion of a new Illinois River Canoe & Kayak Trail completed by union volunteers.  The project is the result of a joint effort between the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground volunteer conservation program and the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities initiative, which awarded the USA a $25,000 grant to support three 2015 conservation projects that improve public access to water-based recreation activities in Tennessee, Illinois and West Virginia.

USAPekin-66“Our partnership with American Water is unique and beneficial to everyone involved,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Fred Myers. “By pairing the grant with Work Boots on the Ground, project funding makes a greater impact because superior work from skilled union members is performed on a volunteer basis. This allows grant funds to cover materials, equipment and other project expenses.”

The project came to USA and Illinois American Water via award-winning storyteller and author Brian “Fox” Ellis through his work on Greater Peoria Economic Development Council’s Water Resource Team’s Tourism and Recreation committee.  According to Ellis, “The Water Resource Team’s vision for the Illinois River is to raise awareness that this rich wildlife corridor is like a grand Central Park for the entire Midwest to enjoy. By linking the towns along the river via a canoe trail we are creating tourist activities and recreation opportunities. This collaboration is an important step toward realizing our vision of getting people out on the water so they can connect with the inherent value of this gorgeous river.”

The Illinois River Road Canoe Trail project provides 12 scenic stations for paddlers to use as launch points or rest stops, featuring flood-resistant benches and commemorative signs with attached eyelets for tethering small watercraft. The ability to stop and rest will help people tackle longer, safer voyages and make it easier for young paddlers to enjoy the river.

With funding and support from American Water Charitable Foundation and Illinois American Water, the USA organized a group of skilled union volunteers from the West Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) to complete Ellis’ vision.

“Partnering with Illinois American Water, the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance to complete the water trail was a great experience,” said West Central Illinois BCTC Executive Director Marty Helfers. “The Carpenters Apprenticeship School built the benches, and union members from nearly every trade donated their time to install the benches and signs along our amazing river, which will showcase the union building trades’ commitment to the community and put our value on display every day!”

The project will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 at 11 a.m. at the Pekin Park District’s Riverfront Park.  Parking is located behind Seico Security at 132 Court Street in Pekin.  Illinois American Water will host a lunch after the ribbon cutting for volunteers and partners.

Illinois American Water President Bruce Hauk commended the collaboration, “We are blessed with the best of the best when it comes to skilled labor.  Our teams are committed not only to providing excellent water service, but protecting our precious resources for everyone to enjoy.  This unique project created by Brian Ellis, coupled with the partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and made possible by the invaluable sweat equity of skilled union workers ensures a wonderful resource for our community.”

Leigh Ann Brown, City of Pekin Economic Development/Tourism Coordinator agreed, “The Illinois River is a huge asset to our area, as are organizations like Illinois American Water and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance who give back and collaborate on behalf of our community.”

The USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage goes hand-in-hand with American Water Charitable Foundation’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor in the communities it serves. This sort of alignment makes the partnership successful and paves the way for more collaborative projects ahead.

“Our employees in union-represented jobs are among the most talented and skilled professionals in the nation, and we are very excited to provide support to Work Boots on the Ground projects that will enhance the outdoor experience of our customers, our employees and their families,” said American Water Charitable Foundation President Darlene Williams.

For picture of the project, click here. For pictures of the ceremony, click here.

Flood Waters Couldn’t Dampen Volunteers’ Spirits in Texas

October 15, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

As they say, when it rains, it pours. That was no cliché in Texas this year. No sooner had a group of Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) volunteers completed the first day of work on an elevated boardwalk at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in March than Mother Nature began to make up for a four year drought.  The Refuge quickly began to flood and remained in high water or flood stage for more than 100 days, burying many parking areas and hiking trails under 10 feet of water.

Click image above to watch this IBEW HourPower video (produced by Oswego Creative) about the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground project at the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge.

Located approximately 40 miles northeast of Houston, the 25,000 acre Trinity River NWR lies within the largest floodplain basin in Texas and is host to bayous, sloughs, oxbow lakes and mysterious ponds and home to a diversity of wildlife including deer, alligators, bobcats and many waterfowl and songbirds.  Still fairly primitive, the Refuge is a place where visitors can find serenity in nature whether hiking, paddling, birdwatching, hunting or fishing.

The elevated boardwalk was the first project initiated through a joint partnership between the Department of Interior and the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program. Once complete, it will be an intrinsic piece of the From Crosswalks to Boardwalks project, which will connect the city of Liberty, Texas, with the Refuge, allowing hikers to traverse more than 500 feet of wetlands, access 13 miles of trails and have a more intimate view of the bayou.

“There is such an industrious environment beneath our feet in the water – fish lounging, crawfish picking along, bugs mining for food,” said Laurie Gonzales, a wildlife biologist at Trinity River NWR.  “It’s a whole other world.  There’s something magical to children when they get to experience nature like that.  This boardwalk will make those experiences possible.”
Trinity River NWR and partner groups secured building permits for the structure and received funding for materials through a Recreational Trails Grant from the state of Texas, but they did not get funding for the manpower to build it.  That’s where the Gulf Coast Building Trades volunteers came in.

“There is so much skill that goes into building a structure,” Gonzales said. “This crew has to plan out the work zone, bring in heavy materials, use machinery…and brave the heat and mosquitoes, all while balancing themselves in the mud and muck.  Skilled union volunteers will be put to the test…but I know they can handle it because they are one tough bunch.”

DSCN5719_350

Heat, mud, mosquitoes, spiders and sore muscles couldn’t stop the dedicated volunteers.

All the flood waters couldn’t dampen the spirits of the diehard volunteers. Once the water receded, they headed back to the Refuge in September to use their planning, layout, carpentry, structural, concrete, fabrication and public relations skills to begin building the 520 foot bridge with an 18’ x 18’ observation deck over a bayou on federal land.

Giving up overtime pay on the weekends in the midst of a Gulf Coast construction boom, the volunteers will devote countless hours to the massive project through the fall. Because the site was under water so long, the volunteers have to manually carry nearly $80,000 worth of concrete piers and construction materials through the swamp to the work area because vehicles get stuck in the mud.  As the boardwalk construction progresses, so does the trek in.  Once they reach the bayou, volunteers will use a flat bottom boat to complete the last several hundred feet.

“We only had to dispatch one cottonmouth snake thus far and will probably have an alligator story to tell when we get to the bayou,” said Mike Cramer, financial secretary-treasurer of UA Plumbers Local 68 and the project coordinator.

When asked why he gave up so much time and energy to such a mentally and physically draining project, Cramer responded, “We all volunteer ourselves to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance because we feel better…knowing we are giving something back to the organization we are dedicated to and the great outdoors.  Union members do so many community projects…with little or no recognition.  The USA provides a forum for these conservation projects to be recognized on a local and national level, while educating the general public about us and some of the wonderful unselfish things we accomplish on behalf of everyone.”

Click here to see more project photos.

USA and American Water Complete Boat Shed at Harrison Bay State Park

September 9, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and Tennessee American Water held a public ribbon cutting ceremony at Harrison Bay State Park Sept. 3, to mark the completion of a new 63-by-18-ft. boat shed built by union volunteers over the summer.

harrisonBay01Chattanooga area Building Trades volunteers from Iron Workers Local 704, Utility Workers Local 121, Carpenters Local 74, Insulators Local 46 and Electrical Workers Local 175, as well as volunteers from Communication Workers Local 3802, constructed the shed. Volunteers from the Friends of Harrison Bay put the finishing touches on the project with a little help from a family that visits the park so often, they decided to lend a hand.

“My kids have been using these boats all summer, so we felt it was right to volunteer to help finish the shed,” said local resident and mother of eight, Stephenie Pyles. “Me and the kids helped stain (the exterior of the shed) and spread gravel.”

The project is the result of a joint effort between the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground volunteer conservation program and the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities initiative, which awarded the USA a $25,000 grant to support three 2015 conservation projects that improve public access to water-based recreation activities in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Peoria, Illinois; and Charleston, West Virginia.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the completion of our first joint project with American Water,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Fred Myers. “This is our first charitable foundation grant, and it is instrumental in helping us take our conservation efforts to the next level. I’m certain this partnership will continue to grow and, together, we will tackle many more community projects.”

harrisonBay02The importance of the project and partnership between the USA and American Water was evident: “This endeavor brought together folks from all across the community, including young children and skilled union trades members,” said Tennessee American Water President Deron Allen. “Both American Water and the USA encourage and support outdoor activities as well as the proper use and protection of the environment for future generations.”

After the ribbon cutting, Myers and Tennessee American Water Director of Operations Kevin Rogers fixed a commemorative plaque to the shed’s wall before no less than five Pyles children, assisted by park rangers, took to the water in kayaks, canoes and on paddle boards.

For more photos, click here.

IBEW Volunteers Surmount Heat and Flies to Construct Boardwalk at Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp

July 21, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Undeterred by flies, heat and muck, nine volunteers from the Young Brotherhood of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 80 volunteered their time and skills through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Work Boots on the Ground program to help construct a boardwalk through a cypress marsh at Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

A unique ecosystem of forested wetland, Great Dismal Swamp contains the greatest biodiversity in the state. The boardwalk will allow refuge visitors to get off the road and into the woods to better experience wildlife and habitat.  Once completed, it will be ADA and ABA compliant and include blinds for photography as well as hunting opportunities for those with disabilities.

swamp_300In fulfillment of its partnership with the Department of the Interior, the USA connected Refuge Manager Chris Lowie with the Young Brotherhood of IBEW Local 80, which was formed to educate the public about unions by engaging in community volunteer projects.  In one weekend and approximately 13 hours, the volunteers installed 150’ of footers, 120’ of cross beams, 50’ of strings and laid decking, in addition to cutting and hauling wood.

“They were very professional and hardworking.  I told them what to do. They divided themselves into teams, decided who would do what, and they went to town,” said Lowie.  “It would take us a month to get this much accomplished.”

The entire boardwalk, which is being built a section at a time solely by refuge staff and volunteers, would cost approximately $200,000 if a contractor was hired, according to Lowie.  “Without volunteers, this project would never have even gotten started, and it would not get done,” he added.

“Our Young Workers group actually had a lot of fun working that weekend in the swamp,” said Phil Fisher, IBEW Local 80 Membership Development Coordinator.  “We were told this boardwalk will be used to help disabled people gain access to a scenic outlook.  Knowing that we were able to have a hand in making that possible was a huge motivator for this group.  Also, we all got a kick out of a piece of 4×4 that a bear had taken a chunk out of overnight—definitely a reminder that we weren’t working on home turf.”

swamp_500
Launched in 2010, Work Boots on the Ground brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors or restore America’s parks.

Union Volunteers Replace Storage Facilities Destroyed in Tornado at AR Game & Fish Commission’s Camp Robinson

July 9, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Camp Robinson, located 30 minutes from Little Rock, Arkansas, and owned by Arkansas Game & Fish, now has storage for horse feed, field trial game bird feed and other supplies thanks to the 10 union volunteers who came together through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program to build a secure 10’x20’ shed inside the horse barn.

“We offer many amenities for public use including a shooting range, campground, dog kennels, boating access and a horse barn,” said Matthew Mourot, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Region 8 Assistant Regional Supervisor.  “We did not have funding for this project in our current FY budget, and the user groups were in need of storage following the April 2014 tornado that destroyed many of our facilities.”

Members of Electrical Workers Local 295, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, Painters District Council 80, Ironworkers Local 321, Sprinklerfitters Local 669 and the Arkansas AFL-CIO donated their trade skills and more than 87 hours in May, June and July to construct and stain the shed and install the electrical system, wrapping up the project on July 7.

arkansas

“A lot of our members and volunteers shoot at the shooting range on Camp Robinson and use their archery range,” said David Stephens, project leader and IBEW Local 295 Assistant Business Manager.  “This project provided an avenue to give back to something they love and also show that Union members are part of the community.”

Launched in 2010, Work Boots on the Ground brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors or restore America’s parks.  Located in Faulkner County Arkansas, Camp Robinson encompasses 4,029 acres and is open to the public for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities.

Union Volunteers Dress Up & Add Security at Lake Thunderbird State Park, Oklahoma

June 25, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Click Here to Watch Project Video

Thirty-eight volunteers from six different union locals came together through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program to dress up and add security to Oklahoma’s Lake Thunderbird State Park, located 30 minutes from Oklahoma City, in June.

The volunteers, representing the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Oklahoma Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Insulators Local 94, Ironworkers Local 48, Operating Engineers Local 627, Pipeliners Local 798 and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 344, installed a 300 ft. split rail fence, metal gate and security spikes at the park’s entrance, using funds raised at the USA’s Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Building & Construction Trades Conservation Dinner.

Thirty-eight union volunteers came together through USA's Work Boots on the Ground program to dress up and add security at Lake Thunderbird State Park.

Thirty-eight union volunteers came together through USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program to dress up and add security at Lake Thunderbird State Park.

“The fence, gate and traffic spikes will help keep this area safer and more secure for the public, and we will be able to control the area better,” said Sherman Johnson, Assistant Park Manager at Lake Thunderbird. “Having volunteers like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance helps us greatly in getting projects done quickly to keep our down time to a minimum during the peak season. We appreciate the hard work that was put in to make this project a success.”

With two marinas, Lake Thunderbird State Park offers a variety of water activities as well as an archery range, hiking and equestrian trails, mountain bike trails, hunting, camping and more.

“The vast majority of our union members love outdoor activities. Volunteering for conservation projects allows them to give back to the parks and recreation areas we all enjoy using,” said Jimmy Fish, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Building and Construction Trades Council. “We had members of six different construction unions. They all worked side by side completing this project, and it gave everyone a chance to meet new people from other unions.”

Volunteers add security strip at park entrance.

Volunteers add security strip at park entrance.

According to the National Association of State Park Directors, there are 6,624 state parks in the U.S. that receive nearly three-quarters of a billion annual visits and generate $20 billion in economic benefits. These parks are continually faced with budget cuts and have a backlog of repair and restoration projects. As part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, union members volunteer their time and trade skills to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors and restore America’s cherished parks.

North & Central N.Y. BCTC volunteers restore replica of President Fillmore’s boyhood home, mark 50th anniversary

June 22, 2015 in Conservation News, General, Work Boots On The Ground

On a cold January day in 1800, a baby boy joined the world inside a modest log cabin in the Finger Lakes region of New York – an area that when, in full bloom, is rich with greenery, trickling brooks and booming waterfalls. This woodland son would become a cloth-maker’s apprentice, a lawyer, a politician and ultimately, the thirteenth president of the United States. President Millard Fillmore and his original domicile are no longer present, but his memory lives on in the form of an accurate replica cabin built 50 years ago in his namesake state park – Fillmore Glen.

Fillmore Glen

Left to right: Ron Haney, Business Manager for Roofers Local 195, Jeff Zaia, Fillmore Glen Park Manager, Fred Bonn, Regional Director of N.Y. State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation and Donald Morgan, Business Manager IBEW Local 43, stand at the entrance of the newly-restored cabin.

Over the spring and summer this year, a group of volunteers from the North & Central New York Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC) successfully restored a half-century old replica of Fillmore’s quaint boyhood home at the park. The project is part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program and came about from collaborative between the BCTC, the New York State Parks and the USA. The BCTC was looking for a project for which to volunteer, the parks department had a project that needed attention and the USA facilitated.

According to IBEW Local 43 Business Manager Donald Morgan, 22 volunteers worked over the span of the project, logging about 345 man hours.

“We had Roofers, Sheet Metal Workers, Masons, Insulators, guys from (United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters), Electrical Workers … It was team effort for sure,” said Morgan.

The project involved many big jobs. Morgan said the bulk of the work involved re-roofing the old cedar shake roof shingles. The volunteers also replaced the floorboards and floor joints, and they changed out four logs near the bottom of the cabin, which had to be done carefully to keep the integrity of the period-themed structure.

“We really hit a home run,” said Morgan. “It was just what we were hoping for.”

Work Boots on the Ground conservation projects serve multiple purposes. The first to preserve outdoor resources and heritage for generations to come, and the second is to build bridges between unions and the public by putting members in a position to serve the communities around them.

“It’s all about giving back to the community,” said Morgan. “We really appreciate our communities, so we love the chance to give back to them and, and helps us paint a picture of who union members really are.”

The parks department also expressed gratitude: “The Union Sportsmen stepped in, stepped up and really helped us improve the experience for patrons visiting the park,” said Finger Lakes Regional Director Fred Bonn. “The crew tackled the project with enthusiasm, skilled craftsmanship and a great deal of pride.”

For more information on Work Boots on the Ground, please visit http://unionsportsmen.org/conservation/work-boots-on-the-ground.

Central Iowa Building Trades volunteers complete handicapped pier, fishing house restorations at Lake Ahquabi State Park

June 10, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — As part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, members of the Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) volunteered their time and trade skills to complete a large-scale restoration of a handicap-accessible fishing pier and fishing house at Lake Ahquabi State Park in Iowa June 6.

roofingLakeAhqTo complete the restoration, approximately 60 volunteers spent more than 800 man hours painting and staining the pier and fishing house, repairing the fishing house roof and replacing the old doors and windows. This project also included pouring a concrete pad and walkway at a picnic area and replacing the plumbing, lighting and wiring in the restroom facility. While the bulk of the materials were purchased by funds previously raised at the 2015 Iowa Conservation Dinner, the volunteers also used approximately $4,000 worth of donated materials, including concrete from American Concrete and paint and stain from Sherwin Williams.

“These projects are valuable to the park in many ways,” said Park Manager Josh Shipman. “They help the staff maintain heavily-used facilities, such as our fishing pier, while providing years of future use for anglers and other park users. By having skilled union members do the work, we are saving lots of money and time that can then be devoted to other areas of the park, while ensuring the work is done properly and professionally.”

The union volunteers are equally happy about the project, according to International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 81 Business Manager Robert Gilmore.

“The lakes, parks and campgrounds are used by all Iowans, and by volunteering to repair or restore them, we are giving back, not only to our families, but we are ensuring these resources can be enjoyed for many more generations of Iowans,” said Gilmore. “When we complete projects in the community, it reinforces the understanding that conservation, public land use and clean water are important to every citizen. That allows us to build bridges and foster working relationships.”

The Central Iowa BCTC also plans to demolish an unused building and haul away the rubble later in the year, pending permits.

Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, union members volunteer their time and trade skills to projects that conserve wildlife habitats, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors and restore America’s cherished parks. For more information about Work Boots on the Ground, email USA Conservation Manager Ty Brown at tyb@unionsportsmen.org or call him at 615-831-6751.

Project photos are available here.

Kansas City Union Volunteers Help Local Boy Scouts of America ‘Be Prepared’ for Summer Camps

April 28, 2015 in Conservation News, General, Work Boots On The Ground

For more than a century, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been helping mold the future leaders of America by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. Located in Kansas City, MO, the Heart of American Council (HOAC) serves more than 31,000 youth and is known for having the highest number of scouts achieving the coveted Eagle Scout badge.

Each summer, more than 23,000 young boys attend summer camps run by the HOAC and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities like sailing, archery, water skiing, space exploration and the shooting sports. Maintaining the grounds and facilities to support so many youth every summer is no easy task. Fortunately, Kansas City has a healthy population of skilled union members, many of whom are former scouts, have children in scouts, volunteer with the scouts or all of the above.

measuring_250“There was a great need at our summer camps to take care of repairing or replacing some of the major infrastructure items in the area of plumbing, roofs and electrical,” said Mark Brayer, Director of Support Services and Professional Advisor to the Properties Committee of the HOAC. “With limited funds…we started to get offers from various union members to come down to camp and use their skills to help in these renovations.”

In response, the Properties Committee established a concentrated weekend effort called Skilled Trades Work Day, and promoted the event to union members. It was so successful, according to Brayer, it has become an annual event at both the Heart of America Council’s H. Roe Bartle and Naish scout reservations, with one work day each spring and fall.

On April 11, 2015, nearly 320 volunteers turned out for the Skilled Trades Work Day at H. Roe Bartle, which encompasses more than 4,200 acres in the Ozark Hills on Truman Lake. Together, the volunteers built new storage facilities, repainted a swimming pool, installed new water heaters, put up trail signs and markers, planted a 500+ tree nursery and completed a variety of other projects in preparation for the camp season. Among the volunteers were approximately 100 union members of the Greater Kansas City Building & Constructions Trades Council (BCTC) including electrical workers, plumbers and pipefitters, roofers, painters, carpenters and millwrights, sheet metal workers, laborers, ironworkers, and operating engineers, along with Bank of Labor staff.

building_250A member of Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 8, Russ Burton is a perfect example of the strong connection between the union trades and the Boy Scouts of American in Kansas City. As an Eagle scout and Chairman of Skilled Trades Team for the HOAC, he has been involved with scouting for nearly 50 years and was instrumental in helping create the Skilled Trades Work Days, which he continues to manage with the help of Project Coordinator Rick McWirth.

Between labor, materials and equipment, the more than 300 volunteers at the Bartle Skilled Trades Work Day provided an estimated $178,000, which the HOAC can invest in future scout programs. According to Burton, much of the work completed would not have been possible without the skills provided by the union volunteers.

wire_250“We feel we operate the best Boy Scout Camps in the country, not just in terms of our program but also in the facility in which to offer that program,” Brayer said. “Having our camping facilities up to speed on maintenance items and putting in new facilities to support the program enables us to attract a larger number of our Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts each year and provide them with a quality program in a safe, clean and well-kept facility.”

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Work Boots on the Ground program brings together skilled union members for conservation projects,” said Alise Martiny, Business Manager of the Greater Kansas City BCTC. “Here in the Kansas City area, we are proud that so many union members are putting their boots to the ground to support the BSA Heart of American Council, which leaves such a positive and lasting impression in the lives of so many local youth.”

USA Awarded American Water Charitable Foundation Grant to Improve Water-Based Recreational Access

April 23, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is pleased to announce a $25,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created by American Water—the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The grant will bring together union members and American Water employees to volunteer their time and skills to water-related conservation projects in Charleston, W. Va., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Peoria, Ill.

The grant, which was announced at the USA’s 2nd Annual West Virginia AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner on April 18, will pair the USA’s all-volunteer Work Boots on the Ground program with projects that benefit three AW service communities by improving public access to water-based recreational opportunities or enhancing the environmental sustainability of existing recreational areas.

(L-R) Jeffrey McIntyre, West Virginia American Water President; Aldie Warnock, American Water Sr. Vice President of External Affairs and AWCF board member; Fred Myers, USA Executive Director; and Ken Purdue, West Virginia AFL-CIO President.

(L-R) Jeffrey McIntyre, West Virginia American Water President; Aldie Warnock, American Water Sr. Vice President of External Affairs and AWCF board member; Fred Myers, USA Executive Director; and Ken Purdue, West Virginia AFL-CIO President.

Launched in 2010, Work Boots on the Ground brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, mentor youth in the outdoors, improve public access to the outdoors or restore America’s parks.

“American Water employees are proud members of the communities we serve. That’s why we are committed to not only delivering the highest quality water and wastewater service possible but also participating and investing in programs that benefit these communities through the American Water Charitable Foundation,” said American Water President and CEO Susan Story. “Our employees who are in union-represented jobs are among the most talented and skilled professionals in the nation, and we are very excited to provide financial and staff support to Work Boots on the Ground projects that will enhance the outdoor experience of our customers, our employees and their families.”

“To every conservation project union members take on through Work Boots on the Ground, they bring an unmatched work-ethic, superior trade skills and a desire to give back to their community,” said USA Executive Director and CEO Fred Myers. “We commend American Water for its good corporate citizenship in supporting this program, and we look forward to working together to improve public access to the recreational opportunities that clean water provides.”

During the April 18 dinner, West Virginia American Water announced an additional $10,000 grant for the Charleston, W.Va. Work Boots on the Ground project.

“A large number of West Virginia American Water employees are avid outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and fishers, and this project aligns employee interests with community-based initiatives that preserve and promote our natural resources,” said West Virginia American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre. “This additional donation will help ensure that we complete a top-notch project in the Charleston area to benefit our customers and our employees.”

Columbus Metal Trades Volunteers Help Prevent Electrical Shock Hazards at Florence Marina State Park

March 23, 2015 in Adopt A Park, Conservation News, General

Under the banner of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Work Boots on the Ground program, members of the Columbus Metal Trades Council (CMTC) volunteered their time and skills on Feb. 21 to inspect six boat docks and 66 boat slips at Florence Marina State Park for electrical hazards and make needed repairs, saving the park $1,500 to $2,000.

James Carr, Curtis Culpepper and Mike Culpepper, members of Electrical Workers Local 613, along with project leader Dave Hall, a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 85, and Trish Carr looked for exposed wiring, broken receptacle covers, bad ground fault circuit interrupters and other hazards that could put boat slip tenants and park visitors at risk.

(L-R) Dave Hall, Curtis Culpepper, James Carr and Trish Carr volunteer their Saturday morning at Florence Marina State Park.

(L-R) Dave Hall, Curtis Culpepper, James Carr and Trish Carr volunteer their Saturday morning at Florence Marina State Park.

Work Boots on the Ground brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors or restore America’s parks. Sitting at the northern end of 45,000-acre Lake Walter F. George in Omaha, GA, Florence Marina State Park is popular among a variety of outdoor enthusiasts, especially anglers and boaters. As with most state parks, it is managed with a tight budget.

IMG_0728“If there were any exposed wires or other electrical issues, and a renter or guest slipped into the water, it could cause serious bodily injury. The inspection helps prevent hazards and minimize risks,” said Tracy Yearta, park manager of Florence Marina State Park and Providence Canyon State Park. “Lots of these projects have to be funded by the department and, with funding the way it is, it’s very critical to bring in outside resources. Their [CMTC volunteers] skills and leadership ability is exactly what we need.”

Yearta first saw their skills and leadership in action in 2014 when CMTC volunteers cleared a 7-mile hiking trail and restored scenic views at nearby Providence Canyon State Park—Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon.

According to Hall, “Everybody was happy doing it…there was a sense of pride in knowing that we helped out the local community. The very next month at our meeting, everybody was exciting, smiling, happy. Some of the same volunteers wanted to do another project.”

This summer and fall, the volunteers will renovate Florence Marina State Park’s waste water treatment facility and install additional campsites at the park.

NJ Pheasant and Quail Programs Get a Boost from Union Volunteers

January 26, 2015 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

Most sportsmen and women know, and even appreciate, that their hunting and fishing licenses and permits support the management of fish and wildlife.  In other words, their favorite activities fund fish and wildlife agencies, which then work to maintain healthy fish and wildlife populations, bringing their hard earned money full circle.

In New Jersey, some of those funds are used to operate the Rockport Pheasant Farm and the associated statewide stocking program.  The first pheasants raised at Rockport were released in 1923, and since then, the hatchery has raised more than two million birds.  For the 12,000 New Jersey residents who hunt pheasants each year, the program is invaluable.

Donald Mullins shows the inside of a pheasant transport box.

Donald Mullins shows the inside of a pheasant transport box.

Thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground program and a group of dedicated union volunteers, New Jersey sportsmen’s dollars are now stretching a little further.
Following the USA’s 1st Annual Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner in 2013, Tom Mattingley, a member of IBEW Local 351 and the Tri-State dinner committee, contacted the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife to determine how union volunteers could be of service.  Using $5,000 of the money raised at the dinner to purchase planked cedar and other construction materials, a group of union volunteers then built 50 pheasant transport boxes in a woodshop owned by Don Mullins, a retired member of Insulators Local 14.

Armed with table saws, planers and Mattingley’s best drafting sketches, the volunteers constructed and painted stackable boxes that fit into the bed of a truck. According to Mattingley, “they’re a work of art, like bird condominiums.”

“We had been accumulating boxes over the years, but it had been awhile since we had any new boxes due to lack of funding,” said Dave Golden, Chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Wildlife Management.  “So when the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance stepped in and offered to build the boxes, it was a big help.  Some of our boxes are up to 20-years-old and still in operation.”

(L-R) Mike Rocha, IUPAT DC 711 Apprentice Coordinator, and Steve Atkinson, a 3rd year apprentice.

(L-R) Mike Rocha, IUPAT DC 711 Apprentice Coordinator, and Steve Atkinson, a 3rd year apprentice.

After the success of the project in 2013, the USA’s 2nd Annual Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner committee decided to replicate it. Using $5,100 worth of building supplies purchased with 2014 dinner funds, Mullins and his 88-year-old father, Larry, built 52 pheasant and 10 quail transport boxes, which Ray MacDowell of UA Local 322 delivered to IUPAT DC 711, where they were painted by IUPAT DC 711 3rd year apprentices Steve Atkinson, Rocco DiSipio and Herminio Luciano.

According to Edward Flanagan, IUPAT DC 711 Apprenticeship Coordinator, the apprentices gain valuable experience by working on a variety of local outreach programs that, in turn, support the community.

“Federal grants can be applied to other things, but the pheasant program is paid for with hunter and angler license fees,” said Golden.  “So every dollar that is donated through the pheasant boxes saves license sales money, so those funds can be used for other things.”

“I think projects like this show what we’re all about,” Mullins said.  “We’re not just individuals.  We’re a brotherhood that works together to get things done.”

The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife stocked 63,000 ring-necked pheasants in 2014 and approximately 11,000 quail in wildlife management areas throughout the state.  The USA was happy to support the release efforts thanks to these Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner committee members and volunteers: Rob Walsh and Ken Cockerill (IUOE Local 542); Gerald Taggart, Edward Flanagan, Mike Rocha, Steve Atkinson, Rocco DiSipio, Herminio Luciano (IUPAT DC 711); Tom Mattingley, Dan Cosner and Ken Lowry, Jr. (IBEW Local 351); Roger Giberson and Domenic Gazzara (SMART Local 27); Ray MacDowell (UA Local 322); Mike Conry (IBEW Local 164); John Stahl III and Don Mullins (Insulators Local 14); and Larry Mullins.

“We need to get involved in conservation efforts because it’s our heritage, and we need to preserve our hunting privileges and lands,” Mattingley said.  “The state fish and wildlife needs not only financial help but they need ‘hands on tools,’ and we have the skills.”

See Photos from the 2013 Pheasant Box Build Project

USA’s Ohio State AFL-CIO Dinners Help Fund Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

November 13, 2014 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

ashland275_2

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center while still under construction.

Ashland University’s new 1,200-square-foot Environmental Studies Center at the Black Fork Wetlands in Ashland, Ohio, is now ready for students to research wetlands first-hand thanks to several major donors, including the AFL-CIO’s Crawford/Richland Central Labor Council with supporting funds from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and its Ohio State AFL-CIO Conservation Dinners.

Featuring an open classroom, a storage area, skylights and two composting toilets, the “green” Environmental Studies Center will assist Ashland University students as well as local students of all ages in studying the wetlands by serving as a staging area for them to receive instruction and equipment and a place to examine specimens.  Located halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, the 298-acre wetlands provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of critical plants. Prior to classroom construction, the first phase of the Ashland University project saw the development of a parking area, walking trail and 400-foot boardwalk with an observation deck and bird-watching tower.

“The classroom building will be a unique educational facility that will further science education and the research of wetlands in the north central Ohio region,” according to Dr. Patricia Saunders, director of the environmental science program and associate professor of biology at Ashland University.

In order to raise the $136,000 needed to build the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center, Ashland University reached out to Ron Davis, president of the AFL-CIO’s Crawford-Richland Central Labor Council.

“I took it to my council; they liked it,” said Davis.  “It’s one of a kind…there’s nothing like it in Northern Ohio.”

(L-R) Ashland University Vice President of Development Margaret Promfret, Crawford/Richland Central Labor Council President Ron Davis and Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk accept the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance check for $17,000 at the Ashland University Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center dedication ceremony on Oct. 30, 2014.

(L-R) Ashland University Vice President of Development Margaret Promfret, Crawford/Richland Central Labor Council President Ron Davis and Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk accept the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance check for $17,000 at the Ashland University Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center dedication ceremony on Oct. 30, 2014.

After taking on fundraising for the facility, the Crawford-Richland Central Labor Council reached out to labor contractors and organizations, including the Ohio AFL-CIO, which contributed $17,000 from funds raised at the USA’s Ohio State AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner in 2013 and 2014 and an additional pledge from the USA.

“With the proceeds we’ve raised thus far with our USA dinners, which are held in Columbus, we have been able to make a substantial contribution to the Black Fork Wetlands project,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.  “The Ohio AFL-CIO is proud that we could be a part of this project and the learning experiences that will be shared on the grounds of Ashland University.  I personally want to thank the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for all they do, not only in Ohio, but across the country.”

“When union members put their mind to something, there is no stopping them,” said USA Executive Director Fred Myers.  “This new state-of-the-art facility is a perfect example.  Between the efforts of the Crawford-Richland Central Labor Council in raising funds for the facility, the Ohio AFL-CIO in hosting two successful USA Conservation Dinners, and the union workers and contractors that built the facility in three months, this project was truly a labor of love.”

18 IN Parks to Close Temporarily for Deer Reductions

November 4, 2014 in Conservation News, Hunting

As Seen in The Outdoor Wire on Nov. 4, 2014

deer_300Select Indiana state parks will close temporarily to allow for controlled deer reductions in the coming weeks.  The dates for the temporary closings are Nov. 17 and 18, and Dec. 1 and 2.

The state parks affected are Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River and Whitewater Memorial.

These state parks will close to the general public the evening before each of the two efforts and reopen the morning after each two-day reduction.

Only individual hunters drawn last September and those hunters they listed on their applications may participate at Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Harmonie, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River and Whitewater Memorial. There will be no standby drawings at those parks.

For Fort Harrison (an archery hunt) and Indiana Dunes and Spring Mill (both are firearms hunts), a public standby drawing to fill spots left vacant will take place on property each morning of the reduction.

Indiana Dunes State Park will conduct daily standby drawings at 8 a.m. CST. Potential standby participants can apply on site between 7 and 7:45 a.m. CST but cannot enter the park before 7 a.m. CST.

Spring Mill and Fort Harrison will conduct daily standby drawings at 8:30 a.m. EST. Potential standby participants can apply onsite between 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. EST but cannot enter the park before 7:30 a.m.

Eligibility for daily onsite standby drawings is limited to Indiana residents who are 18 years of age by Nov. 17, and have any valid license to take deer in Indiana. Indiana residents who possess an Indiana lifetime license to take deer are also eligible. Participants must wear a hunter orange hat or cap and vest, coat, jacket or coveralls at all times while on the property.

Applications can include up to three individuals. The number of participants drawn will be based on the number of unclaimed spots for each day; it is not a first-come, first-served process. The need for stand-in hunters tends to increase with each hunt day.

Questions about participating in the standby drawings should be directed to the property of interest.

DNR biologists evaluate which parks require a reduction each year based on habitat recovery and previous harvest rates at each park. The state parks are home to more than 32 state-endangered plants and numerous significant natural communities. The reductions help control browsing by deer to a level that helps maintain habitat throughout the state parks for all plants and animals.

Information on 2015 state park deer reductions, including online applications, will be available next summer at dnr.IN.gov/fishwild. The application deadline is usually the end of August.

Donation from Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and volunteerism of Proctorville, Ohio outdoor sportswoman support Ohio-based nonprofit that introduces special needs youth to joy of hunting

October 29, 2014 in Conservation News, General

by Laura Tingo

A donation by the Ohio AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner committee with funds raised from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Annual Ohio State Conservation Dinner held in Columbus, Ohio, and the dedicated volunteerism of Brittney Sowards, 19, of Proctorville, Ohio, is putting smiles on a lot more faces, in more places and more often for youth outdoor enthusiasts served by the Special Needs Youth Sportsmen, Inc.

The USA’s gift of more than $4500 will support the nonprofit’s mission to provide youth with special needs safe access and opportunity in the outdoor sporting world.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance gives us an opportunity to give back to those that support us – our members who enjoy the great outdoors and the enjoyment and relaxation it brings when the whole family is together, fishing and hunting and making memories with their children,” said Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO President.

Brittney Sowards, 19 with one of her prize deer.

Brittney Sowards, 19 with one of her prize deer.

“Special Needs Youth Sportsmen is a strong example of providing safe access and hands-on experience to all youth, early on to foster their enjoyment of the outdoors and instill a lifelong commitment to preserving the great outdoors for future generations,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Sowards first learned about the Special Needs Youth sportsmen, Inc. at the age of 14, when a brochure circulated in her classroom inviting kids, like her, to hunt. On her second time out, Sowards, who live with Autism, harvested her very first deer. Since aging out of the program she has enjoyed for five years, Brittany returns to volunteer every chance she gets.

“I just keep going back,” said Sowards, who helps with things like setting up for the events, getting the kids outfitted and making lunches. “It’s a neat experience, I met a lot of new friends…I found a lot of people could relate to me,” she said. “We all finally fit in.”

This year marks the fifth year that the Ohio-based nonprofit has taken youth ages 6 – 18 on elaborate hunting trips with a host of volunteers and community supporters. Over the Oct. 18th weekend, kids had the chance to experience a European-style pheasant hunt. The organization’s founder, George McCalvin, said the USA’s donation will help expand programs and services for participants.

“(The donation) is a great shot in the arm for us,” said McCalvin. “It gives us the opportunity to do more with the kids…to get them in the outdoors.”

It was the USA Ohio State Conservation Dinner Committee, led by Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk, that made the decision about how to allocate proceeds raised by the more than 368 USA member and avid sportsmen and women through support and attendance at the dinner.

“Not only do we want to encourage young people to know about labor but to also get to experience something in the outdoor world,” said Mauk. “This organization provides resources and gives a young adult the chance to experience the outdoors in a safe way.”

For Sowards, the draw to return year after year is about her love for the great outdoors and meeting new friends.

“You get out and breathe the fresh air… enjoy the outdoors,” she said. “One year, one of the little kids came in with his dad and the trucks jumping up and down screaming that he got his first deer! We were all so excited for him.”

“What’s neat about this whole thing is that we never met and, now, we are friends and like family.”

To learn more about Special Needs Youth Sportsmen, Inc., visit their website at: www.specialneedsyouth.org.

USA Dinner Proceeds Benefit Ohio-Based Outdoor Sporting Program for Special Needs Youth

October 23, 2014 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

by Laura Tingo

Ohio whitetail hunt organized for youth with special needs in 2011.

Ohio whitetail hunt organized for youth with special needs in 2011.

A donation by the Ohio AFL-CIO Conservation Dinner committee with funds raised from the USA’s Annual Ohio State Conservation Dinner held in Columbus, Ohio, is putting smiles on a lot more faces, in more places and more often for youth outdoor enthusiasts served by the Special Needs Youth Sportsmen, Inc. The gift of more than $4,500 will support the nonprofit’s mission to provide youth with special needs safe access and opportunity in the outdoor sporting world.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance gives us an opportunity to give back to those that support us—our members who enjoy the great outdoors and the enjoyment and relaxation it brings when the whole family is together, fishing and hunting and making memories with their children,” said Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO President.

“Special Needs Youth Sportsmen is a strong example of providing safe access and hands-on experience to all youth, early on, to foster their enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoors and instill a lifelong commitment to preserving the great outdoors for future generations,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

This year marks the fifth year that the Ohio-based nonprofit has taken youth ages 6 – 18 on elaborate hunting trips with a host of volunteers and community supporters. Over the Oct. 18th weekend, kids of every age had the chance to experience a European-style pheasant hunt. The organization’s founder, George McCalvin, said the USA’s donation will help expand programs and services for participants.

“(The donation) is a great shot in the arm for us,” said McCalvin.  “It gives us the opportunity to do more with the kids…to get them in the outdoors.”

It was the USA Ohio State Conservation Dinner Committee, led by Ohio AFL-CIO Field Director Jeanette Mauk, that made the decision about how to allocate proceeds raised by the more than 368 USA members and avid sportsmen and women through support and attendance at the dinner.

“Not only do we want to encourage young people to know about labor but to also get to experience something in the outdoor world,” said Mauk. “This organization provides resources and gives a young adult the chance to experience the outdoors in a safe way.”

Titans Cheerleaders, Rachel Holder bring “flavor” to USA’s Ironworkers shoot

October 6, 2014 in Conservation News, Press Release

Nashville celebs bring local "flavor" to USA's Ironworkers shoot, celebration.

Nashville celebs bring local “flavor” to USA’s Ironworkers shoot, celebration.

Titans Cheerleaders and Curb Recording Artist Rachel Holder bring Nashville “flavor” to celebration of Ironworkers, retirees, U.S. Veterans at USA’s 1st Ironworkers International Sporting Clays Shoot.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, a non-profit, conservation organization based in Nashville, along with the Ironworkers International and Ironworkers Local 492, hosted a round of sporting clays and family picnic on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Nashville’s Tennessee Clay Target Complex. While serving as a fundraiser to support the USA and its conservation mission, the event also provided a great opportunity to recognize union members, retirees, U.S. Veterans and their families. More than 300 people came out to enjoy a day of family-fun activities and entertainment.

Highlights of the program included a full sporting clays tournament and special appearances by Titans Cheerleaders and Nashville’s own Curb Recording Artist Rachel Holder. Titans Cheerleaders signed autographs and posed for photos with fans of all ages. Rachel Holder and her band performed an energetic set of old and new hits, after Holder’s impressive display of busting clays with attendees on the shooting course. Darrell Roberts, Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats, was on-hand to inform attendees about the organization’s mentoring, training programs and job placement services for veterans.

When scores were tallied, it was Ironworkers International Team B that took home top honors with the High Over All (HOA) score of 470 out of 500. The HOA Individual award went to Hugh Bennett. Amanda Pilcher earned the HOA Female award for the event.

“We appreciate the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s efforts to unite the union community through conservation, so we were happy to lend our support by hosting a fundraising event in Tennessee,” said Dick Ward, First General Vice President of Ironworkers International.

“This event was a true celebration of the union community and our veterans,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It was planned with the local flavor of Nashville at the forefront, and we appreciate the Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders and Rachel Holder for being a part of this important day of recognition for the Ironworkers and our veterans.”

In 2012, Ironworkers Local 492, IBEW Local 429 and Insulators Local 86, volunteered through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program conservation program to build the Tennessee Scholastic Shooting Complex. Union Sportsmen’s Alliance members and staff assisted with the building, installation and painting of the facility’s entrance gate, secured electrical supplies and volunteered their services for future projects in the construction of a scholastic youth shooting complex.

Also in 2013, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with volunteers from the Nashville Building & Construction Trades and Spann Brothers Lumber Co., volunteered their time and talents to build a new walking bridge in the heart of Montgomery Bell State Park to replace the one that was washed away by the 2010 floods.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance ‘Get Youth Outdoors Day’

September 19, 2014 in Conservation News, Press Release

Youth gain hands-on training in archery, trap, and rifle shooting at 3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance `Get Youth Outdoors Day’ in Clear Lake, MN.

Mike Ganz, Vice President and Business Representative of Bricklayers Local 1 gives kids the chance to get up close and personal with pheasants as a part of his live upland bird dog demo.

Mike Ganz, Vice President and Business Representative of Bricklayers Local 1 gives kids the chance to get up close and personal with pheasants as a part of his live upland bird dog demo.

A record number of youth came out to experience what it’s like to shoot arrows, shotguns and rifles at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 3rd Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day on Sunday, Sept. 14 at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, MN.

USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day brings together union volunteers from the Roofers, Bricklayers and Central Minnesota Building Trades to teach participating kids firearm safety and coach them in trap shooting, rifle shooting and archery target shooting. This year, 50 children enjoyed hands-on introduction to the shooting sports by rotating between archery, rifle and shotgun stations. Prior to these activities, they received a lesson in basic firearm safety and had the chance to identify various waterfowl decoys and big game sheds.

Kinsey Robinson, International President of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers was on hand to help out and share his love for the outdoors with the kids.

“Get Youth Outdoors Day is a prime example of the USA’s efforts to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage by hands-on events that instill youth with a love for the great outdoors,” said Robinson. “The Roofers are so proud to be part of this event each year, to see it grow from 22 youth the first year to 50 this year and to witness the smiles on the kids’ faces when they break clay targets or watch their arrows fly straight to the bullseye.”

Mike Ganz, Vice President and Business Representative of Bricklayers Local 1 who was instrumental in launching the event, returns each year to volunteer as a youth mentor on the course. Ganz also brings along his hunting dog and pheasants for a live demonstration that gives kids the chance to see an upland bird dog get on point on a pheasant. Following the demo, he lets them touch the pheasants.

Kinsey Robinson, International President of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers and wife Mona were on hand to help out and share their love for the outdoors with the kids.

Kinsey Robinson, International President of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers and wife Mona were on hand to help out and share their love for the outdoors with the kids.

“We get them out into the outdoors…give them a little taste of different things,” said Ganz, who explained what keeps him coming back. “I had a repeat kid from last year who came up and asked if we had the pheasants again. Two kids showed up with a local newspaper photo of themselves because they wanted to show me they got a turkey. That was pretty cool.”

Evan Wood, of St. Cloud, who celebrated his 10th birthday at this year’s Get Youth Outdoors Day, claimed it was, ‘the best thing he has ever done.’

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

Record number of youth receive shooting instruction at Get Youth Outdoors Day

September 18, 2014 in Conservation News, Work Boots On The Ground

A record number of youth came out to experience what it’s like to shoot arrows, shotguns and rifles at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 3rd Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day on Sunday, Sept. 14 at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays in Clear Lake, MN.

USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day brings together union volunteers from the Roofers, Bricklayers and Central Minnesota Building Trades to teach participating kids firearm safety and coach them in trap shooting, rifle shooting and archery target shooting. This year, 50 children enjoyed hands-on introduction to the shooting sports by rotating between archery, rifle and shotgun stations. Prior to these activities, they received a lesson in basic firearm safety and had the chance to identify various waterfowl decoys and big game sheds.

Kinsey (R) and Mona (L) Robinson coach youth at sporting clays.

Kinsey (R) and Mona (L) Robinson coach youth at sporting clays.

Kinsey Robinson, International President of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers was on hand to help out and share his love for the outdoors with the kids.

“Get Youth Outdoors Day is a prime example of the USA’s efforts to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage by hands-on events that instill youth with a love for the great outdoors,” said Robinson. “The Roofers are so proud to be part of this event each year, to see it grow from 22 youth the first year to 50 this year and to witness the smiles on the kids’ faces when they break clay targets or watch their arrows fly straight to the bullseye.”

Mike Ganz gives youth an up-close look at a pheasant.

Mike Ganz gives youth an up-close look at a pheasant.

Mike Ganz, Vice President and Business Representative of Bricklayers Local 1 who was instrumental in launching the event, returns each year to volunteer as a youth mentor on the course. Ganz also brings along his hunting dog and pheasants for a live demonstration that gives kids the chance to see an upland bird dog get on point on a pheasant. Following the demo, he lets them touch the pheasants.

“We get them out into the outdoors…give them a little taste of different things,” said Ganz, who explained what keeps him coming back. “I had a repeat kid from last year who came up and asked if we had the pheasants again. Two kids showed up with a local newspaper photo of themselves because they wanted to show me they got a turkey. That was pretty cool.”

Evan Wood, of St. Cloud, who celebrated his 10th birthday at this year’s Get Youth Outdoors Day, claimed it was, ‘the best thing he has ever done.’

Volunteers build kayak shed at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park

September 8, 2014 in Conservation News, Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union tradesmen volunteer expert skills to build kayak shed at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park

Hard-Labor-Creek_Kayak-shed-construction

Visitors to the recreational lake at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park will find a new kayak shed along its shoreline, thanks to the hands-on, volunteer support of union electricians and elevator constructors who put their talents to work with Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground program in August. The USA, a national, conservation-focused non-profit organization based in Nashville, created the program to bring together skilled union volunteers to help rebuild, renew and restore America’s parks so they will be here to enjoy for future generations.

For three Saturdays, about 25 dedicated union volunteers from Atlanta’s IBEW Local 613 and IUEC Local 32 turned out in high temperatures to make the idea of the new kayak shed – three years in discussion – a reality.

Phil Delestrez, Resource Manager of Hard Labor Creek State Park, said the new kayak shed is an asset for park staff and visitors who participate in the park’s kayak program, which offers educational, historical outings.

“Until now, the program has been cumbersome to run with mile and a half treks to and from the lake and loading and unloading of the kayaks occurring several times per week,” Delestrez said. “The park staff was awestruck by the fact that folks would come out and just do a project like this. The guys really went above and beyond.”

“The new kayak shed at Hard Labor Creek State Park is a perfect example of how union members give back to their communities outside the workplace,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “These men and women bring specialized skills to the table to get the job done right. Our Work Boots on the Ground program helps meet challenges our cherished parks face due to tight budgets and limited manpower.”

Hard-Labor-Creek_Completed-Kayak-Shed

Kevin Moody, Business Manager of IUEC Local 32 who served as project coordinator on behalf of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, even put in one extra day on the project to add finishing touches to the kayak’s roof.

“There were a lot of guys out there who knew what the project needed,” said Moody, of Locust Grove. “They all worked well together and really seemed to enjoy it and have a lot of fun out there.”

Moody added that he brought his teenage son, Andrew, along to volunteer and learn more about the skilled trades.

“I wanted him to see what the jobs are, and it was an eye-opener for him,” said Moody. “It was good for him. After working out there all day, he finally figured out he wants to be on the engineering side.”

Also providing leadership on the project were Gene O’Kelley, Business Manager of IBEW Local 613, who arranged the donation of piling equipment, and Ken Wallace, a member of Jacksonville, Florida’s IBEW 177, who made the trip to volunteer with fellow union brothers on project.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

For information about park programs at Georgia State Parks, visit: www.GaStateParks.org

Interior Department and USA Sign Agreement to Restore Public Lands

August 4, 2014 in Conservation News

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, USA Executive Director & CEO Fred Myers and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 29, 2014

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, USA Executive Director & CEO Fred Myers and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 29, 2014

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance signed a Memorandum of Understanding on July 29, 2014, stating their collective commitment to rebuild, renew and restore our country’s national parks, national wildlife refuges and other public lands alongside youth and veteran conservation corps.

The agreement, signed at the USA’s Annual Conservation Gala in the nation’s capital, pairs the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program with shovel-ready projects on public lands.

WATCH DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR VIDEO ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP

“This agreement with the AFL-CIO and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is really a win-win,” said Secretary Jewell. “Not only will our nation’s parks and public lands benefit from the expert labor, but many young people will have an opportunity to work alongside the union volunteers, learning about the great outdoors and gaining important trade skills. I applaud the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance for their work to continue to strengthen the nation through volunteer efforts that will make a big difference in conservation projects across the country.”

The MOU outlines a mutual commitment to the cooperative Work Boots on the Ground program among the Department of the Interior and its three land-managing bureaus – the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management— and the AFL-CIO, acting through the USA.

Top L-R: Fred Myers (USA), Secretary Jewell, Richard Trumka (AFL-IO). Bottom L-R: Frank Christensen (IUEC), Bill Creeden (Boilermakers), Tom Buffenbarger (IAMAW), Kinsey Robinson (Roofers), Gerard Scarano (BAC), Dan Penski (IUPAT)

Top L-R: Fred Myers (USA), Secretary Jewell, Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO). Bottom L-R: Frank Christensen (IUEC), Bill Creeden (Boilermakers), Tom Buffenbarger (IAMAW), Kinsey Robinson (Roofers), Gerard Scarano (BAC), Dan Penski (IUPAT)

“America’s workers are committed to doing our part to save our nation’s parks and restore our public lands,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The USA was established to unite the union community for conservation under a single banner, to protect our most precious and beautiful lands, waters and wild spaces.”

There are potential Work Boots on the Ground projects identified as `shovel-ready’ and in discussion in Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin.

“When our union members show up with their tool belts on, they have the skills and training to get the job done,” said Fred Myers, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Executive Director and CEO. “To every conservation project they take on, they bring an unmatched work-ethic, superior trade skills and a desire to give back to their community.”

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance created the all-volunteer “Work Boots on the Ground” program in 2010 to provide a framework to recruit and coordinate members of the labor union community to volunteer their expert trade skills for conservation projects. In 2013, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance announced the launch of its park program. Since then, park projects have been completed in several states, saving agencies thousands of dollars. The park projects are in addition to many other “Work Boots on the Ground” projects around the country, including Get Youth Outdoors Day and Take Kids Fishing Day events in three cities.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance reports there are more than 7 million union members who recreate regularly in the outdoors, making them one of the nation’s largest single constituencies of outdoor users.

The signed agreement complements the Interior Department’s youth initiative to inspire millions of veterans and young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. The Memorandum of Understanding emphasizes that, when possible, the AFL-CIO and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance will work collaboratively with youth and veteran corps in order to share experience and expertise.

Register the kids for the 3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Get Youth Outdoors Day

July 21, 2014 in Conservation News, General

Register the kids for the 3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Get Youth Outdoors Day

Register the kids for the 3rd Annual Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Get Youth Outdoors Day

A fun day of hands-on archery and firearm instruction – Free, open to first 45 kids

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), a Nashville-based non-profit, conservation organization, invites children ages 9 -17 to join the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and its valued volunteers for its 3rd Annual Get Youth Outdoors Day. The event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. – noon at Wild Marsh Sporting Clays, 13481 County Road #3 SE, Clear Lake, Minnesota.

Get Youth Outdoors Day, an initiative of USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program that brings together union members from around the country to volunteer for conservation, is free and open to the public, but limited to the first 45 kids. Pre-registration is required by the Aug. 5 deadline.

To register: email Kate Cywinski at katec@unionsportsmen.org, or 615.332.4900.

Union volunteers from the Roofers, Bricklayers and Central Minnesota Building Trades will be on-hand to mentor and coach participating kids with introductions to trap shooting, rifle shooting and archery target shooting.

“The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is committed to preserving North America’s outdoor heritage for the next generations and the USA’s annual Get Youth Outdoors Day is a great opportunity to introduce young boys and girls to the shooting sports and the outdoors,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

Union volunteers team up to roof a picnic pavilion and repair a bridge at Wisconsin’s Horicon Marsh

July 7, 2014 in Conservation News, General, Work Boots On The Ground

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Visitors to Horicon Marsh in Mayville, Wisconsin will have new scenery to enjoy with the completion of the latest Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Work Boots on the Ground, all-volunteer project that brings together union members from all over the country for conservation.

Union volunteers, all members of the South Central Wisconsin and Northeast Building and Construction Trades councils, donated their time and expert trade skills to put a roof on a picnic pavilion and refurbish bridge decking in need of repair on June 13. Throughout the day, workers installed roof tresses and shingles and repaired and replaced portions of a bridge deck that were weathered and in need of refurbishing.

A picnic pavilion at Horicon Marsh, has a new roof thanks to the expert trade skills of union volunteers who participated in the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s `Work Boots on the Ground,’ conservation initiative in Wisconsin.

A picnic pavilion at Horicon Marsh, has a new roof thanks to the expert trade skills of union volunteers who participated in the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s `Work Boots on the Ground,’ conservation initiative in Wisconsin.

Dave Branson, Executive Director of the South Central Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council, headed up the project. “It’s nice to get out in the community and do something for the marsh out there that people can use and enjoy,” Branson said.

Union volunteers included members of Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 599, Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, Plumbers Local 75, Bricklayers Local 13, Electrical Workers 159 and 494 and the South Central Federation of Labor. Wisconsin resident Tim Bindl, who formerly coordinated the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, lent some additional elbow grease to the project.

“Union volunteers bring expert skills and sincere dedication to our Work Boots on the Ground projects all over the country,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “They bring a strong work-ethic to the job in small towns and big cities, making a huge impact in our daily lives. They want to give back in their local communities, and being part of our conservation initiatives gives them a way to do that.”

Union volunteers spent the day building a roof on a picnic pavilion, to help shelter visitors, along The Egret Trail at Horicon Marsh, in Mayville, Wisconsin.

Union volunteers spent the day building a roof on a picnic pavilion, to help shelter visitors, along The Egret Trail at Horicon Marsh, in Mayville, Wisconsin.

Erin Railsback, Visitor Services Manager at Horicon Marsh, said The Egret Trail, where the work took place, is the most popular site on the refuge.

“It’s fantastic that this group was able to donate the time to help enhance the facilities for our visitors,” Railsback said. “Because of their volunteerism and commitment to conservation and education, thousands of visitors will be able to take advantage of the shelter…and continue to enjoy access to the marsh itself.”

Union Volunteers team up to put roof on picnic pavilion, repair bridge decking at Horicon Marsh

June 26, 2014 in Press Release, Work Boots On The Ground

Union volunteers spent the day building a roof on a picnic pavilion, to help shelter visitors, along The Egret Trail at Horicon Marsh, in Mayville, Wisconsin.

Union volunteers spent the day building a roof on a picnic pavilion, to help shelter visitors, along The Egret Trail at Horicon Marsh, in Mayville, Wisconsin.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), is pleased to announce the completion of its newest Work Boots on the Ground all-volunteer conservation initiative at Horicon Marsh, in Mayville, Wisconsin. Union volunteers, all members of the South Central Wisconsin and Northeast Building and Construction Trades councils, donated their time and expert trade skills to put a roof on a picnic pavilion and repair bridge decking on June 13. Throughout the day, workers installed roof tresses and shingles and repaired and replaced portions of a bridge deck, weathered and in need of refurbishing. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program brings together union members from around the country to volunteer for conservation.

Dave Branson, Executive Director of the South Central Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades Council, headed up the project. “It’s nice to get out in the community and do something for the marsh out there that people can use and enjoy,” Branson said.

Union volunteers included members of Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 599, Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, Plumbers Local 75, Bricklayers Local 13, Electrical Workers 159 and 494 and the South Central Federation of Labor. Wisconsin resident Tim Bindl, who formerly coordinated the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, lent some additional elbow grease to the project.

A picnic pavilion at Horicon Marsh, has a new roof thanks to the expert trade skills of union volunteers who participated in the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s `Work Boots on the Ground,’ conservation initiative in Wisconsin.

A picnic pavilion at Horicon Marsh, has a new roof thanks to the expert trade skills of union volunteers who participated in the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s `Work Boots on the Ground,’ conservation initiative in Wisconsin.

“Union volunteers bring expert skills and sincere dedication to our Work Boots on the Ground projects all over the country,” said Fred Myers, Executive Director and CEO of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. “They bring a strong work-ethic to the job in small towns and big cities, making a huge impact in our daily lives. They want to give back in their local communities and being part of our conservation initiatives gives them a way to do that.”

Erin Railsback, Visitor Services Manager at Horicon Marsh, said The Egret Trail, where the work took place, is the most popular site on the refuge.

“It’s fantastic that this group was able to donate the time to help enhance the facilities for our visitors,” Railsback said. “Because of their volunteerism and commitment to conservation and education, thousands of visitors will be able to take advantage of the shelter…and continue to enjoy access to the marsh itself.”

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.