Nashville, TN- Union members and contractors in the Dallas area volunteered their skills on May 17 to reconstruct three dilapidated bridges at Cedar Hill State Park in Cedar Hill, TX and make them safe for park visitors as part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Boots on the Ground program. The project took approximately 12 hours to complete and included 72 volunteers representing the Dallas Building & Construction Trades Council and several union locals including UA 100, IUEC 21, IUPAT 53, IBEW 20, SMART 68 as well as students and employees of the North Texas Job Corp Center and union contractors such as Beard Integrated Systems.
Not only was the labor donated by union volunteers, but the $3,000 needed for lumber, screws, bolts and other building supplies was funded by the USA’s 2012 Dallas Area Conservation Dinner. USA’s conservation dinners were initiated last year to raise funds for its Boots on the Ground (BOTG) program, which brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle conservation projects. As a part of BOTG, USA’s Adopt-A-Park program focuses those efforts specifically on America’s nearly 7,000 parks.
“Not only do state parks contribute to our physical and emotional health, they generate $20 billion in economic benefits to state and local communities. Yet they’re continually faced with budget cuts and looming closures and have a backlog of repair and restoration projects,” said USA Executive Director Fred Myers. “Through this new facet of Boots on the Ground called Adopt-A-Park, union members utilize their skills and specialized training to renew, rebuilt and restore America’s treasured state parks.”
Being so close to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its more than six million residents, Cedar Hill State Park is truly an integral part of the community for outreach, interpretation, education and economic impact. The park was the USA’s very first Adopt-A-Park project to be completed. While the park’s three bridges around Duck Pond were in different stages of disrepair and were beginning to separate and splinter after 20+ years of use, the volunteers evaluated and updated each based on its structural safety. As a result, park visitors of all ages will now be able to utilize the bridges without worrying about splinters or tripping over warped boards.
“We continually strive to maintain all facilities and services on minimal budgets. There are multiple projects, like trail bridge maintenance, that fall behind other higher priority maintenance issues and don’t receive funding,” said Assistant Park Superintendent, Joshua Choate. “The unions and USA provided the materials, a large number of highly skilled volunteers and high quality service. We could not be more thankful for their dedication to conservation and community service.”
“It’s important to be involved in projects such as this because they improve opportunities for everyone to enjoy our local outdoors. It gives us a place to get away from all the concrete, cars, and computers and to understand the outdoors and places we may have never gone,” said Jim Miille, coordinator for this volunteer project and a project manager at Beard Integrated Systems, a union contractor.