Union Members Provide New Fishing Access on J. Strom Thurmond Lake

Augusta, Ga. – Union volunteers celebrated the completion of a large-scale access project with a dedication 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 J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir each year with better fishing access.

After a two-year, pandemic-related delay, the multi-phase project was completed in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the 111-square-mile impoundment as well as the popular Modoc and Clarks Hill recreation areas.

Union volunteers, representing several union locals within the Augusta Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC) donated their time and trade skills to clear land near the popular Modoc boat launch, relocate an existing fishing pier, build and backfill a retaining wall, and construct a walkway and parking area that allow wheelchair accessibility.

According to Dale Cullum, business manager or Insulators Local 92 and project supervisor, “union brothers and sisters from 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 Local148, Bricklayers Local 8 and Millwrights Local 1263 were all involved in one or more phases of the construction process.”

In total, 30 union volunteers donated 386 hours of labor, valued at $20,458, to the project. With a total project value of $116,597

  1. Strom Thurmond Reservoir—known locally as Clarks Hill Lake—is located on the Savannah River between Georgia and South Carolina and is just 15 minutes from the city of Augusta. It is the largest Corps of Engineers’ Lake east of the Mississippi.

“Four million people from all around the region visit the lake every year,” said Park Operations Manager Charles Fenwick, “and our goal is to provide recreational opportunities for everyone, whatever their 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 sort of stuck in a corner and few people used it,” he said. “Now it’s near a very popular boat ramp where it’s highly visible and will receive much more traffic from park visitors.”

Funding for building materials and equipment was provided jointly by the Corps of Engineers and the Augusta BCTC, according to USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell.

“Part of the necessary funds came from a Handshake Agreement with the Corps,” he said, “with the rest provided by the Augusta BCTC from the proceeds of its annual USA conservation dinner. Through auctions and raffles held during the dinner, union affiliates and individual union members donate money that is later returned to the public through community outreach events and conservation projects like this one.”

“The work done here is the foundation for the partnership between the Corps and the USA,” added Fenwick. “It’s a win-win-win for us, the USA and park visitors. We’re already exploring the opportunity to expand the pier and boat ramp areas further.”

In addition to the official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, Augusta BCTC hosted their first USA ‘Take Kids Fishing Day’ at the new fishing pier after the dedication event was complete. Over 100 young anglers were able to enjoy the opportunity to learn to catch a fish from the newly opened fishing pier.

Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): The 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 www.unionsportsmen.org or connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Work Boots on the Ground (WBG): WBG is the USA’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 habitat, restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide manpower needed to complete critical projects that may otherwise go undone.

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