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Area sportsmen's club follows unconventional method

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

For a lot of sportsmen's clubs throughout the region, spring signals the start of work parties.

Clubs recruit members to turn out and spruce up their facilities, be they shooting ranges, a fishing pond, the clubhouse or whatever. Often, volunteering your time that way earns you a discount on your membership renewal.

Things are a little different with the Allison Park Sportsmen's Club.

The club is not a big one -- membership stands at about 45 -- though it's been around a while, maybe four decades or so, so well as anyone can remember. What's unique is that it owns no property of its own. Never has, in fact.

But that doesn't stop members from doing work parties that benefit the public.

This year, as in the past, the club will sponsor a cleanup day along Pine Creek, from the dam at North Park Lake down nearly to the Allegheny River. Members, together with other volunteers, like fishermen, Boy Scouts, homeowners along the stream and others, will turn out to collect everything from tires and truck parts to trash from the stream corridor.

"We're a bunch of retired guys, most of us, and we're just looking for a way to help," Club president Rich Simmen of Allison Park said. "Pine Creek is a real treasure for this area, and we want to keep it that way."

This year's cleanup is set for March 31. Volunteers are being asked to meet at 8:30 a.m. at the ballfield across from St. Ursula Church on Duncan Avenue in Allison Park. They'll be divided into teams there, each assigned to a particular section of water.

Workers will do their thing until noon, when everyone will get back together for lunch, according to information provided by the club's Sam Bacco.

The cleanup is not all the club does. It hosts a free fishing day for kids ages 2 to 12 at North Park Lake each spring -- this year's is May 12 -- helps the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission float stock Pine Creek with trout and has "adopted" the stream, working to create fish habitat and do other stream improvements annually.

It's a lot of work done by a small group of guys who don't benefit exclusively from their own labors. But that's OK, Simmen said.

Anything that benefits Pine Creek and its corridor is good for everyone, he said.

"We do work hard, but we get a lot of community help, too, which is great. Pine Creek is just something nice that we don't want to see go bad," he said.

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