Four members from Dallas-Ft.Worth, Texas, Local 20 took time out to help make improvements to a nearby state park as part of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance Work Boots on the Ground initiative. 

Volunteers with the Union Sportsmens’ Alliance, including Dallas-Ft.Worth, Texas, Local 20 Assistant Business Manager Phillip Parker, left, and Business Manager Karsten Frentrup, second from the right, helped repair part of Cedar Hill State Park in February.

“There’s usually somebody here who wants to do something, and this is a nice way to give back to the community,” said Local 20 Assistant Business Manager Phillip Parker, who was part of the effort.

It was the second USA project Local 20 members have done at Cedar Hill State Park. Parker was joined by Business Manager Karsten Frentrup and organizers Adrian Cepeda and Cesar Martinez.

Members repaired two benches at scenic overlooks that provide views of Joe Pool Lake. They also fixed some handrails and the door of a restroom that had been broken for three years, Parker said.

“Projects like this show the public who we are, that we can do other stuff – and not for money,” Parker said. “It combats the notion that we’re just a bunch of union rowdies.”

As Texas state parks struggle with hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, the volunteer work of skilled union tradespeople has become even more important. Local 20 members were joined by members of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 100, Sprinkler Fitters Local 669, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 21 and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

By the end of the two-day project that took place in February, they logged almost 200 hours of service. 

“We enjoy the comradery of Union Sportsmen’s Alliance conservation projects,” said Texas State Building Trades President and UA Local 100 Business Manager Craig Berendzen, who led the projects.

Located close to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and its more than 6 million residents, Cedar Hill State Park is an integral part of the community. It’s also the site of the Union Sportmen’s Alliance’s first state park project, in which volunteers rebuilt three dilapidated bridges in 2013.

In addition to donating labor, union members including some from Local 20, raised more than $2,300 for lumber and other materials at the Alliance’s Dallas-Fort Worth Area Conservation Dinner last year.

Since Work Boots on the Ground began in 2010, union volunteers have donated more than 18,000 hours and $600,000 in labor costs to improve access to the outdoors, said Scott Vance, Alliance CEO and executive director.

“Our goal is to not only continue these vitally important conservation infrastructure projects, but to substantially grow them,” Vance said. “As state and federal agency budgets continue to shrink, the USA is committed to helping build and sustain the vital infrastructures of our parks, wildlife management areas and public waters.”

The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance is a union-dedicated nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. Work Boots on the Ground is the Alliance’s flagship conservation program that 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 habitats, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors.