After several busy weekends, union volunteers put the final touches on a new bridge leading to some of the most popular areas of Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park as part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Boots on the Ground program. The new bridge replaces one that was washed away in the 2010 floods, and the small, temporary bridge had stood in its place since then.
USA’s Boots on the Ground (BOTG) program brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to tackle conservation projects. As a branch of BOTG, USA’s new Adopt-A-Park initiative focuses those efforts specifically on America’s parks. Looking to complete one of its inaugural Adopt-A-Park projects near the organization’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., USA Executive Director Fred Myers met with Montgomery Bell State Park Manager Pat Wright and later Nashville Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) President Anthony Nicholson to discuss possible conservation projects. When Wright identified the need for a new bridge, the Nashville BCTC quickly offered to help.
“There was an obvious need for repair to this bridge that was unfortunately washed away in the floods,” Myers said. “Anthony and the rest of the Nashville Building Trades didn’t hesitate to volunteer their time and skills as well as supplies for the rebuild. Their support is a tremendous help to the Middle Tennessee community.”
While Tennessee State Parks receive an average of 25 million visitors each year, budget constraints still make it difficult for all needed repairs to be addressed. 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. Yet these parks are continually faced with budget cuts and have a backlog of repair and restoration projects. Through Adopt-A-Park, USA members volunteer their time and unique skills to renew, rebuild and restore America’s parks, whether by restoring a weathered visitor’s center, rebuilding the park ranger station or modernizing the facilities.
“Growing up near the park, I felt a personal obligation to be a part of this project,” said Nicholson. “Thankfully, the Nashville BCTC shared my passion for it. It really is a great show of local support, all around, for the community and conservation. Even the cost and labor to turn the fallen trees in the park into lumber were donated by Spann Brothers Lumber.”
Beginning May 11 and ending June 8, union members spent four Saturdays at the park completing the bridge rebuild with a total of 362.25 volunteer hours. All lumber used in the project was reclaimed wood from fallen trees in the park and building supplies were generously donated by the Nashville Building Trades. Over the course of the project, the USA and the Nashville BCTC saved Montgomery Bell State Park $7,323.65.
“We would really like to thank the Union Sportsman Alliance and the Nashville Building Trades for all of their hard work and time that they contributed in building the bridge that crosses Four Mile Creek,” said Wright. “With the completion of the bridge, hikers can once again be connected to the Spillway Trail, the Montgomery Bell Overnight Trail and some of the most important recreational areas of the park.”