If Clifton Park and Halfmoon residents truly want to enjoy Kinns Road park for many years into the future, they'll back off their opposition to logging operations and allow Saratoga County to conduct routine thinning of the wooded area.
The county — facing opposition from town residents who use the park for hiking, cross-country-skiing and walking their dogs — is backing off its plan to hire loggers to remove certain trees from the park. It's a short-sighted acquiescence that ultimately could end up reducing the public's enjoyment of the park.
Opponents of the logging say they fear it will change the character of the park for the worse, eliminating shade and making it less ... well ... natural. But just because the park is located in Halfmoon and Clifton Park doesn't automatically mean the intent is to turn it into a shopping mall.
When thinning is done professionally and correctly, it invigorates the forestland, improves conditions for wildlife, and improves the experience for visitors.
According to several articles published by forestry professors and extension experts, thinning has numerous benefits.
When trees are placed closely together, they compete for natural resources like sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil. Larger trees demand larger amounts of resources, at the expense of the newer, healthier growth.
It's here where human intervention can help. Removing older trees and younger, weaker trees has a Darwin effect on forests, forestry experts say, increasing the chances of survival for the healthier trees and other plant life that remains.
Also, when trees have ample room to grow, ample sunlight for photosynthesis and enough nutrients to draw from, they are more resistant to insect damage, disease and man-made intrusions.
Combined with an effort to remove some of the dead underbrush that inhibits growth, thinning can strengthen woodland growth, open up more pathways for people to explore, and create a better experience for those who use it.
It's true the county would make money from the logging operation. But what's wrong with government making use of a natural resource for the benefit of taxpayers? And closing the park for two months in winter is a small inconvenience.
Rather than back off the idea, county officials should articulate a comprehensive plan for the park and demonstrate to residents exactly how they expect it will improve conditions there.
The thinning plan has many potential benefits for Kinns Road park. It’s worth another look.