The town can begin removing dead or dangerous trees from the Kinns Road Park a soon as it can get a student work crew to come.
Saratoga County supervisors on Wednesday in Ballston Spa approved a management agreement that will allow the town of Clifton Park to formally take over operations of the 64-acre park, which is owned by the county as part of its forest holdings.
The approval clears the way for BOCES forestry students to come in and remove dead and dangerous trees as part of their education in forest management.
The Clifton Park Town Board last Monday approved the agreement with the county, which resolves a dispute over tree-cutting policy that arose when the county sought to do a commercial forest management cutting. A number of residents who use the property for hiking, dog-walking and other recreation objected.
The county and the town also agreed to work together toward getting a “home rule” bill through the state Legislature that will allow the land ownership to be transferred from the county to the town.
The land was given to the county by the state in the 1930s on condition it remain county forest, and only the Legislature can change that. The town has run the property as a town park since the 1970s, but until now there was no written agreement between it and the county.
The parking lot off Kinns Road is routinely full on weekends. “It is a heavily used town park,” Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said.
In anticipation of taking over day-to-day management, the town hired a professional forester. The forester, retired state Department of Environmental Conservation forester Richard Cipperly, has said he isn’t recommending any commercial cutting, but acknowledged the forest is overgrown. He said dead and dying trees should be removed for safety reasons, and some thinning along recreation trails may be needed.
The town has a five-year agreement with the Warren-Saratoga-Washington-Hamilton-Essex Counties BOCES to cut the trees, and had hoped to remove the dead trees near the parking lot and picnic area starting late last week, but county officials blocked the cutting until the formal management agreement was approved by both parties. BOCES will do the work at no cost to the town as part of its forestry education program.
“These young adults will get some hands-on experience,” Barrett said. “It’s been a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, but I couldn’t see a more positive outcome.”
The town-county management agreement is for 10 years, or until whenever the land is legally transferred to the town.