By TIM ROWDEN
The American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) recently awarded a $300,000 grant to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) in support of their partnership and shared commitment to unite the union community in preservation of North America’s outdoor heritage.
“The American Water Charitable Foundation is pleased to continue our support of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance through a multi-year grant directly benefiting the USA’s all-volunteer Work Boots on the Ground program,” said AWCF Chair Fred Myers.
WORK BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Work Boots on the Ground (WBG), the USA’s flagship conservation program, brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise to conservation projects that improve and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors, working closely with federal, state and local agencies and conservation groups to provide the manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.
“Work Boots on the Ground brings union members and American Water employees together to volunteer their time and skills on water-related conservation projects that benefit the communities we serve,” Myers said. “This has been a great partnership and we look forward to the next three years.”
THREE-YEAR GRANT PROGRAM
The three-year grant program will support the WBG program uniting union members to complete conservation, public access, education and outreach projects in communities across the country.
“We are honored to continue working with American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Scott Vance. “The projects our union volunteers have already completed with their support, along with those that will be executed under this new agreement, will benefit local communities for years to come.”
Over the past two years, the USA and AWCF have collaborated on a series of projects to improve public facilities and enhance access to recreational waters.
The organizations also joined forces to construct:
- A non-motorized boat ramp at Minnie Ha Ha Park in Sunset Hills, Mo., with the help of Utility Workers Local 335. The effort began in early 2017 when Local 335 volunteers tore out and replaced a boat ramp that dated back to the 1940s and was in poor condition. Less than a week after it was completed, catastrophic flooding damaged the new structure beyond repair and Local 335 volunteers returned with a new design to stand up to future flooding. Volunteers donated more than 500 hours of labor and completed the project on Aug. 13, 2017.
- Wheelchair-accessible fishing piers on Griffin Reservoir near Scranton, Pa., and Jacobson Park in Lexington, Ky.
- A large boat storage structure at Harrison Bay State Park in Tennessee, which is used to shelter watercraft available for public use.
The funding and volunteer union labor vital to the completion of these and other similar projects has been greatly appreciated by local agencies and municipalities, which in many cases would have put construction and restoration plans on hold due to budget constraints.
“American Water’s dedication to our shared mission has fueled the completion of a number of critical conservation and community access projects, and their continued support will help us expand our conservation and outreach programs nationwide,” said USA Director of Conservation and Community Outreach Forrest Parker.
10 ADDITIONAL PROJECTS
The new agreement will finance up to 10 additional projects, each involving the restoration of outdoor recreational sites, the creation of better access to outdoor areas, the enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, or the introduction of new participants to outdoor activities.
The new three-year agreement was initially announced on July 16 at the USA’s Fundraising Gala at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. The program will be administered by American Water’s nonprofit organization, the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF).