A lone pine tree toppled over, throwing a crackling sound and a loud thud through the otherwise hushed Kinns Road Park on a grey Wednesday afternoon.
Saratoga County is reconsidering its plan to selectively log the 64-acre Kinns Road Park– a plan to which there has been some public opposition. Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matthew Veitch said public comments at county meetings influenced the decision to call off the plans to log the park. The county plans to transfer ownership of the park to the town, which has just hired a forester to create a park management plan.
The town hired Richard Cipperly on Dec. 21 to create a management plan for the park. Cipperly worked for the state Department of Environmental Conservation for 34 years and spent the last 18 years as a consulting forester in the Adirondacks.
Cipperly was chosen for the task since he is “familiar with the park and has the expertise to complete a thorough plan for the future of Kinns Road Park,” according to Clifton Park town supervisor, Phil Barrett. Cipperly worked with the town in the 1970s making recommendations for the future of the property.
Cipperly will work with the town to create a draft management plan, which will will be presented at a town board meeting sometime this year. He will be paid $2,750 for his work developing the management plan and $70 an hour for any additional work.
While it is routine to log county-owned woodlands such as Kinns Road Park, some local residents have made it clear they cherish the forested park’s natural landscape and are willing to speak up in its defense. There are people, for example, who enjoy hiking, snowshoeing and walking their dogs in the park who say they are worried logging operations would disrupt their recreational opportunities.
Nancy Glover brings her brown lab, Mocha, to the park just about every day. The two began this daily ritual when Mocha was just a puppy. Although she’s beginning to grey around the muzzle at nearly 14 years old, Mocha still enjoys trotting across the forest floor — recently blanketed with the season’s first snow. “We’re very lucky to have it. I enjoy having it so close to home,” Glover said.
The land now known as Kinns Road Park was given to Saratoga County by the state in 1930. The county designated the land as a park in 1976, Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said.
When the county designated the property as parkland, it also recommended certain improvements be made, such as adding grills, picnic tables and trails, according to Matthew Veitch, chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “Around that time,” Veitch added, “the town of Clifton Park and the county informally agreed that the Town would manage Kinns Road Park, which that have de facto done since then.”
Saratoga County will request home rule legislation this year from the state transferring ownership of the park to the town of Clifton Park.
Transferring ownership of the Kinns Road Park property from the county to the town is not a new idea, according to Barrett who noted there have been two previous home rule legislation requests, once in the 1970s and later in the 1990s. “Neither case moved forward and I’m not sure why.”
It’s unclear whether the property has been logged before, though Barrett said the town has never logged the land.
Barrett insists ““We are not going to do any wholesale logging of the property.” He added, “The goal is to manage Kinns Road Park as a park. That may sound generic but it’s important. Ultimately the goal of the owner of the property is extremely important.”