Ground Conservation Program Improves Hunting Opportunities

Ground Conservation Program Improves Hunting OpportunitiesNew Jersey sportsmen’s dollars are being stretched a little further thanks to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA) Work Boots on the Ground (WBOTG) program and a group of dedicated union volunteers.  Replicating a successful project in 2013, union volunteers used $5,100 raised at the USA’s 2nd Annual Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner to construct and paint 52 pheasant and 10 quail transport boxes to support the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, which raises and releases approximately 50,000 pheasants and 11,000 quail annually across the state.

Money raised through hunting and fishing license sales support the management of fish and wildlife.  In New Jersey, some of those funds are used to operate the Rockport Pheasant Farm and the associated statewide stocking program, which has raised more than two million birds since 1923.

“Federal grants can be applied to other things, but the pheasant program is paid for with hunter and angler license fees,” said Dave Golden, Chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Wildlife Management.  “It had been awhile since we had any new boxes due to lack of funding, so when the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance stepped in and offered to build the boxes, it was a big help.  Some of our boxes are up to 20-years-old and still in operation.”

Seeking a way to utilize the 2013 dinner funds and diverse trade skills of New Jersey union members, Tom Mattingley, a member of Electrical Workers Local 351 and the dinner committee, contacted NJ Fish & Wildlife and learned about their need for assistance with the pheasant boxes.  Armed with table saws, planers and Mattingley’s drafting sketches in a woodshop owned by Don Mullins, a retired member of Insulators Local 14, a group of volunteers constructed and painted 50 stackable boxes that fit into the bed of a truck.

In late 2014, Mullins and his 88-year-old father, Larry, built an additional 52 pheasant and 10 quail transport boxes, which Ray MacDowell of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 322 delivered to Painters DC 711 where 3rd year apprentices Steve Atkinson, Rocco DiSipio and Herminio Luciano finished painting them last week.

“This is a great display of what the USA is all about,” said USA Executive Director Fred Myers.  “One of our goals is to expand and improve hunting and fishing access, and supporting the NJ pheasant program provides hunting opportunities for thousands of sportsmen in the state.”

“We need to get involved in conservation efforts because it’s our heritage, and we need to preserve our hunting privileges and lands,” said Mattingley.  “The State Fish and Wildlife needs not only financial help but they need ‘hands on tools,’ and we have the skills.”

This Work Boots on the Ground project was made possible by  the following Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner committee members and volunteers: Rob Walsh and Ken Cockerill (IUOE Local 542); Gerald Taggart, Edward Flanagan, Mike Rocha, Steve Atkinson, Rocco DiSipio, Herminio Luciano (IUPAT DC 711); Tom Mattingley, Dan Cosner and Ken Lowry, Jr. (IBEW Local 351); Roger Giberson and Domenic Gazzara (SMART Local 27); Ray MacDowell (UA Local 322); Mike Conry (IBEW Local 164); John Stahl III and Don Mullins (Insulators Local 14); and Larry Mullins.

About the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information, visit http://www.unionsportsmen.org/or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen.

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