This past fall, the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and New Jersey unions hosted the Tri-State Area Conservation Dinner and raised $5,000 to be used for a local conservation project. Union volunteers are now using that money to support the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Pheasant Program, which raises and releases 50,000 pheasants each year across the 24 Wildlife Management areas to enhance hunting opportunities for the more than 12,000 pheasant hunters in the state.
Led by Tom Mattingly of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 351, union volunteers from IBEW Local 351 and 164, Insulators Local 14, Pipefitters Local 322, Sheet Metal Workers Local 27, Painters District Council 711 and Operating Engineers Local 542 volunteered their time and skills to build pheasant transport boxes that the NJ Fish and Wildlife program needed.
Mattingly was excited to arrange not only a USA conservation dinner but also a Boots on the Ground project to assist in the conservation efforts in his area. He contacted the NJ Fish and Wildlife office to ask just how local unions could best help the program.
“In today’s world, when you walk up to a stranger and say you want to build something for them and also raise the funds to do it, they look at you like you have three eyes, “ Mattingly said. “But I asked what we could do to benefit New Jersey sportsmen, and they suggested we build pheasant transport boxes.”
Once materials were purchased from the funds raised at the USA’s conservation dinner, volunteers took to their table saws, planers, drills, and sketches in what resembles a shop from This Old House to build pheasant transport boxes that fit into the bed of a truck and hold 14 birds each.
“This is a great display of what the USA is all about,” said USA Executive Director Fred Myers. “Our mission 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,” Mattingley said. “The state Fish and Wildlife program needs not only financial help, but they need ‘hands on tools,’ and we have the skills.”
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The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) is a union-dedicated outdoor organization whose members hunt, fish, shoot and volunteer their skills for conservation. The USA is uniting the union community to expand and improve hunting and fishing access and wildlife habitat while passing on our national outdoor heritage. For more information, visit www.unionsportsmen.org or www.facebook.com/unionsportsmen .