A volunteer crew from the International Union of Painters District Council 53 gathered at Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area on May 15 to put the finishing touches on a Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) conservation project that will benefit shooters and hunters throughout north central West Virginia.
The eight-lane, 200-yard public shooting range has always been a popular feature at the 3,000-acre recreational area, according to Steven Rauch, district wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. After years of steady use, the facility needed attention.
“The roofs on the two 10×20 shooting shelters needed to be replaced as a matter of general maintenance, and the shooting benches were in somewhat rough shape,” he said. “Thanks to the USA and union locals that donated all the materials and to all the union members who volunteered their time and talent, it’s like a brand new facility.”
Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program, the project began with apprentice carpenters from Local 436 building new shooting benches, and UA Pipefitters Local 152 apprentices constructing new target holders as part of their regular training.
On April 24, 15 volunteers from those locals, plus members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 33 and Electrical Workers Local 596, donated their time and skills to re-roof the shelters and install the target holders.
Five carpenters from Locals 436 and 439 arrived a few days later to install the shooting benches, according to Kenny Perdue, West Virginia AFL-CIO president emeritus.
Perdue was a key figure in organizing and coordinating the project from start to finish. “This is the third conservation project we’ve done through the USA and Work Boots on the Ground in West Virginia,” he said, “and I have to say that, in my 48 years as a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, one of the best things to evolve from the unions is the USA. It’s brought us together as sportsmen to do projects that are not only beneficial to our members but also to the public in the communities we live in as well.”
“When it comes to dedicated and passionate USA members, you can’t help but think of people like Kenny Perdue,” said USA Conservation Programs Manager Sam Phipps. “Even after retirement, his heart stays in organized labor and serving his community. Volunteers like Kenny and everyone who contributed to the project at Pleasant Creek WMA make USA conservation projects possible and directly impact the future of America’s outdoor heritage.”
Union members volunteered more than 350 hours (a value of nearly $19,000), from the pre-building phase to installation, and all building materials were donated as well, he added.
“Sheet Metal Workers Local 33 provided $1,000 worth of metal roofing materials, while Pipefitters Local 152 donated materials, valued at $1,800, for the target holders,” he explained. “The USA donated all materials for construction of the shooting benches, a $1,400 value.
“All these improvements needed to be done, and the USA and union volunteers’ willingness to step in and help dovetailed perfectly with those needs,” said Rauch. “And we greatly appreciate the donation of all building materials as well. It means we can more easily address other needs at Pleasant Creek and elsewhere.”