Thirty-eight volunteers from six different union locals came together through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground conservation program to dress up and add security to Oklahoma’s Lake Thunderbird State Park, located 30 minutes from Oklahoma City, in June.
The volunteers, representing the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Oklahoma Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC), Insulators Local 94, Ironworkers Local 48, Operating Engineers Local 627, Pipeliners Local 798 and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 344, installed a 300 ft. split rail fence, metal gate and security spikes at the park’s entrance, using funds raised at the USA’s Oklahoma AFL-CIO and Building & Construction Trades Conservation Dinner.
“The fence, gate and traffic spikes will help keep this area safer and more secure for the public, and we will be able to control the area better,” said Sherman Johnson, Assistant Park Manager at Lake Thunderbird. “Having volunteers like the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance helps us greatly in getting projects done quickly to keep our down time to a minimum during the peak season. We appreciate the hard work that was put in to make this project a success.”
With two marinas, Lake Thunderbird State Park offers a variety of water activities as well as an archery range, hiking and equestrian trails, mountain bike trails, hunting, camping and more.
“The vast majority of our union members love outdoor activities. Volunteering for conservation projects allows them to give back to the parks and recreation areas we all enjoy using,” said Jimmy Fish, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Building and Construction Trades Council. “We had members of six different construction unions. They all worked side by side completing this project, and it gave everyone a chance to meet new people from other unions.”
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. These parks are continually faced with budget cuts and have a backlog of repair and restoration projects. As part of the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program, union members volunteer their time and trade skills to projects that conserve wildlife habitat, educate future generations of sportsmen and women, improve public access to the outdoors and restore America’s cherished parks.