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USA Grant, Union Volunteers Boost Ottawa NWR Fishing Access

December 2, 2019 in Conservation News, Fishing, Press Release

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) visitors now enjoy greater access and fishing opportunities, thanks to union volunteers and a $10,000 grant from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) United Outdoors Conservation Fund.

Located in northwest Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie, Ottawa NWR is popular among those in search of outdoor adventures. Each year, the refuge hosts an increasing number of students for environmental education programs. While fishing is a key component, the refuge lacked a safe and accessible place for children to learn to fish. Instead, staff utilized a mowed grass trail next to a pond near the visitor center.

The USA grant was awarded to the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to support its Anglers for Tomorrow initiative, which included construction of a wheelchair-accessible, 100-foot concrete trail and three fishing platforms along the pond.

In October, volunteers from United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 12 and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local G-555 completed the piers. Volunteers from Friends of Ottawa NWR, along with refuge employees, also participated in the project. The new structures increase fishing participation by providing wheelchair access and reducing the threat of insect bites and injuries associated with the trail used prior to the project.

Before the fishing platforms were constructed, Ottawa NWR had only a grass trail to provide temporary fishing access to the Visitor Center pond.

“It was great to work with partners who bring different backgrounds and skills to the table for a common goal,” said Friends of Ottawa NWR Executive Director Aimee Arent. “The refuge operates under the knowledge that connecting children to conservation supports their growth into stewards of tomorrow. This project will help ensure the realization of this goal.”

In late 2018, the USA unveiled its United Outdoors Conservation Fund to expand its conservation footprint. Through a grant application process, the fund provides financial assistant to union-based organizations, conservation groups and agency partners to execute impactful conservation and access projects or outreach programs.

The Friends of Ottawa NWR grant was one of the first issued through the new program, and the first to be completed.

“This new grant fund allows the USA and its partners to operate in a way that not only increases the impact of our projects but also engages many more stakeholders and communities,” explained USA Conservation and Communications Director Forrest Parker. “It also enables Organized Labor to make a significant and substantial difference in our country’s conservation future.”

For more information on the fund or to apply for a grant, visit: http://unionsportsmen.org/grantfund.

Friends of Ottawa NWR used their USA grant to construct three fishing platforms with the help of UAW Local 12 and UWUA Local G-555 volunteers.

Brotherhood Outdoors TV Features Michigan UWUA Member In Pursuit Of Trophy Whitetails

August 2, 2019 in Articles, Brotherhood Outdoors TV, Press Release

Jordan Winans of Laingsburg, Michigan, travels to one of the continent’s big buck hotspots to target monster whitetails on an episode of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Brotherhood Outdoors television series airing the week of August 5 on the Sportsman Channel.

A wind power technician and member of Utility Workers Union of America Local 104, Winans services giant wind-driven turbines high above the earth to help keep the lights on in millions of homes across the grid.

When his boots are on the ground, Winans spends as much time as possible in outdoor pursuits including chasing largemouth bass and walleyes, but his favorite pastime by far is scouting and bowhunting Michigan’s whitetail deer.

To fulfill his lifelong dream of matching wits with a monster buck, Winans travels to the legendary bluff country of Buffalo County, Wisconsin, and Winona County, Minnesota. Nestled in the rugged yet fertile Driftless Region untouched by glaciers in the last Ice Age, the counties are famous for producing record-book bucks.

The breathtaking terrain where Winans’ adventure occurs is unlike anywhere he’s hunted in his home state, and the bluffland bucks are considerably older and wiser, too. With the aid of his Schuhter’s Outpost host, he sets out in search of a giant.

Winans double-checks his bow before heading into the bluff country.

Tune in to the Sportsman Channel Tuesday, August 6 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern to join this hardworking union member and avid bowhunter on his quest to take a 150-class or better whitetail in the land of legendary bucks. Then, tag along as the cameras follow Winans back to Michigan where he and his father host a military veteran during the annual Walleyes For Warriors fishing event on Saginaw Bay.

Viewers can also catch one of the episode’s re-airings on Wednesday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 1:30 a.m. or Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Produced by Rusted Rooster Media, Brotherhood Outdoors is now in its 11th season of inviting hardworking and deserving union members on fishing or hunting adventures of a lifetime.

As Season 11 continues, viewers can tag along with guests in pursuit of black bears on Vancouver Island, permit and bonefish in Mexico, giant bucks and waterfowl in Saskatchewan and more.

Every episode of Brotherhood Outdoors also takes viewers to the homes, communities and jobsites of these tireless American workers for an inspirational glimpse at their backstories before heading onto the water or into the field. Along the way, the show also offers snapshots of the USA’s community-based conservation, public access, outreach and mentorship efforts by a dedicated, all-volunteer union labor force.

For a complete listing of all upcoming episodes, visit http://www.thesportsmanchannel.com/shows/brotherhood-outdoors. To watch episodes online, visit www.myoutdoortv.com.

Presented by Bank of Labor, Brotherhood Outdoors is also sponsored by the following unions, contractors and corporate partners: Buck Knives, Carhartt, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and United Association/International Training Fund’s Veterans in Piping Program.

The Driftless Region of Minnesota and Wisconsin is famous for producing world-class whitetails.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Honors UWUA Local 335 Member Allan Bathon with Conservation Steward of the Year Award

July 30, 2019 in Articles, Conservation News, General, Press Release

USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler (L) presented Local 335 President Allan Bathon with the 2019 UWUA Conservation Steward of the Year Award.

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) has honored Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 335 President Allan Bathon with the 2019 UWUA 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 to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage.

Bathon, of Florissant, Missouri, championed the revitalization of public access to the Meramec River at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri. 

The effort began in early 2017, when Bathon spearheaded a USA Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) project in which union volunteers from Missouri American Water and UWUA Local 335 tore out and replaced the original ramp, which was built in the 1940s and in poor condition. 

Unfortunately, less than a week after it was completed, catastrophic flooding damaged 90 percent of new structure beyond repair. Undeterred, Bathon helped devise a new design to stand up to future flood waters, and rallied union volunteers to rebuild the ramp, which was completed for the second time on August 13, 2017. In all, volunteers donated more than 500 hours of labor to make the new ramp a reality. 

Funded through a $35,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation, the new facility was named the Ron Schneider Boat Ramp to honor a longtime UWUA member who aided the initial rebuild. Bathon also organized the ramp’s official dedication celebration in April of 2018, which included a family outdoors day that drew more than 250 participants.

Bathon spearheaded the USA’s public access project on the Meramec River at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri.

“Allan has repeatedly proven himself a leader willing to step forward and make things better, both in the workplace and his community,” said USA Director of Union Relations Walt Ingram. “He brought UWUA Local 335 and its members together to work with Missouri American Water to complete a fantastic community service project at Minnie Ha Ha park. The new ramp will benefit local residents for decades to come. The benefits of Allan’s leadership in conservation far exceed this single project, however. They extend all the way to the UWUA International and our national partnership with American Water.”

USA Director of Membership, Marketing and Communications Brian Dowler presented Bathon with the award July 26, 2019 at the UWUA’s 31st Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I am honored to receive this award,” Bathon said. “But it’s not my honor alone.  It belongs to everyone who put in a lot of hard work on this project.”

Bathon explained that creating opportunities for community members to enjoy the outdoors was a major motivation for he and other union volunteers involved in the Minnie Ha Ha ramp project. “We’re blessed with natural resources like the Meramec, Mississippi and Missouri rivers in our area, but work needs to be done for people to access them,” he said. “We decided to step up our game and start making it happen—and look forward to completing additional projects in the future.”

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.