The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to partner in conservation and public access projects on lands and waters managed by the USACE.
This partnership agreement between the nation’s fastest-growing nonprofit conservation organization and one of the top federal providers of outdoor recreation outlines plans to harness the trade skills and community spirit of the USA’s union volunteers.
Through the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground (WBG) conservation program, volunteers will build, repair or enhance walking trails, boat launch ramps, docks, accessible fishing piers, shooting ranges and similar structures in projects on 4,000-plus recreation sites scattered across 12 million acres of public lands and waters in 43 states. Construction materials and equipment, in most cases, will be supplied by the USACE.
“This new partnership with the USA provides an excellent opportunity for USACE staff to connect with groups of highly skilled volunteers to help reduce backlog maintenance, improve public access to the outdoors, and enhance wildlife habitat at USACE lakes and rivers,” said USACE National Partnership and Volunteer Program Manager Heather Burke. “Recreation facility improvements that have already been accomplished by USA volunteers at USACE lakes have been received very favorably by the visiting public, who appreciate the high-quality work performed by the volunteers. We are excited to expand this partnership nationwide.”
Case in point: USA volunteers and a coalition of project supporters are expanding recreational opportunities at North Marcum Recreation Area on Rend Lake near Benton, Illinois. Improvements include construction of the 1,200-foot concrete Pollinator Trail, complete with four fully-accessible fishing stations around a rejuvenated pond, as well as an elevated archery shooting platform, completed in 2019. Further plans call for the building of a sheltered, fully-accessible 12-lane archery range and a 3-D target archery trail that will begin this year.
“Ninety percent of the USACE’s nearly 5,000 recreation sites are within 50 miles of a major metropolitan area,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “This new partnership with the USACE puts the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and our Work Boots on the Ground volunteers in perfect position to execute projects that expand recreation and improve wildlife habitat on public lands and waters within a short drive of millions of Americans.”