May 2012

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Volunteers Bridge the Gap for South Dakota
Outdoor Enthusiasts

Union members from South Dakota recently took America's failing bridge infrastructure into their own hands by volunteering invaluable skilled labor to help the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks rebuild a new hiking trail bridge just south of Hill City on the Mickleson Trail.

Part of the Union Sportsmen's Alliance's Boots on the Ground program, 22 union members from Rapid City Local 1250 and members from the Sheet Metal Workers, Plumbers and Operating Engineers teamed up for the conservation project, which helped bridge the gap between outdoor enthusiasts and access to public lands.

One of more than 100 converted railroad bridges along the trail, the 100-foot bridge needed significant repairs to the base and handrails. Volunteers worked over a busy four-lane highway during wintery conditions while demolishing portions of the existing bridge and installing new planks and a pre-fab handrail system they developed.

Through teamwork and dedication, they were able to cover more than 50 feet on the first day alone, wrapping up the project by the end of day two.

"The new bridge will greatly improve community access by providing a better surface for hiking and biking," said Local 1250 Business Manager Randy Stainbrook, who helped coordinate the project.

Stainbrook said such community projects are "a great way to get outdoors, and it helps put unions in a good light in the public's eyes."

For more on the work of the Union Sportsmen's Alliance, visit

South Dakota union members rebuild a hiking trail bridge.