Augusta, Georgia—Union volunteers celebrated the completion of a large-scale access project with a ribbon-cutting and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 10. The Modoc Boat Ramp Fishing Pier project was completed in October through the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) Work Boots on the Ground program, and will provide millions of people who visit the J. Strom Reservoir Thurmond every year better access to fish.
After a two-year pandemic-related delay, the multi-phase project has been completed in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the 111-square-mile reservoir, as well as the popular recreational areas of Modoc and Clarks Hill.
The union volunteers, who represent various local unions within the Augusta Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC), donated their time and business skills to clear land near the popular Modoc boat launch, relocate a dock existing fishing grounds, build and fill in a retaining wall, and build a walkway and parking area that allow wheelchair accessibility.
According to Dale Cullum, Insulators Local 92 business manager and project supervisor, “the union brothers and sisters of Insulators Local 92, Laborers Local 515, Operating Engineers Local 470, Painters Local 1756, Carpenters Local 283, Ironworkers Local 846, Pipefitters Local 150 , Plasters & Cement Masons Local 148, Bricklayers Local 8, and Millwrights Local 1263 participated in one or more phases of the construction process.”
In all, 30 union volunteers donated 386 man hours, valued at $20,458, to the project. With a total project value of $116,597
J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, known locally as Clarks Hill Lake, is located on the Savannah River between Georgia and South Carolina and is only 15 minutes from the city of Augusta. It is the largest Corps of Engineers lake east of the Mississippi.
“Four million people from across the region visit the lake each year,” said park operations manager Charles Fenwick, “and our goal is to provide recreational opportunities for everyone, regardless of age or physical ability.”
The fishing pier itself, he explained, was moved from the nearby Clarks Hill Recreation Area because it was underutilized at that site. “It was stuck in a corner and few people were using it,” he said. “Now it’s near a very popular boat ramp where it’s highly visible and will get a lot more park visitor traffic.”
Funding for construction materials and equipment was provided jointly by the Corps of Engineers and the Augusta BCTC, according to US Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell.
“Part of the necessary funding came from a handshake agreement with the Corps,” he said, “and the rest was provided by the Augusta BCTC from the proceeds of its annual US Conservation Dinner through auctions and raffles held during the dinner, union affiliates and individual union members donate money that is then given back to the public through community events and conservation projects like this one.”
“The work done here is the foundation of the partnership between the Corps and the US,” Fenwick added. “It’s a win-win-win for us, the US and the park guests. We are already exploring the opportunity to further expand the dock and boat ramp areas.”
In addition to the official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, the Augusta BCTC hosted its first US “Kids Fishing Day” at the new fishing pier after the dedication event was completed. More than 100 young anglers were treated to the opportunity to learn how to catch a fish at the newly opened fishing pier.
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to unions whose members hunt, fish, shoot, and volunteer their skills for conservation. America is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ground Work Boots (WBG): WBG is America’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise for conservation projects that enhance and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, they restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the great outdoors. The US Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide the labor needed to complete critical projects that might otherwise go undone.