PARIS — Citing declining participation and an overlapping purpose, selectmen Monday approved merging the conservation and recreation departments. 

The move reorganizes the Conversation Committee as a recreation subcommittee. 

Volunteer participation in the Conservation Committee, which traditionally preserves trail conditions at Cornwall Nature Preserve on Paris Hill and Billings Dam Park, has fallen to just a single member, Town Manager Amy Bernard told selectmen Monday night.

Bernard said combining the Conservation Committee with the Recreation Committee, which engages in similar work improving mobility on the preserve’s two miles of wooded trails, would help obtain badly needed assistance to mark the paths.

“It’s a little confusing when you get in there,” Bernard said. 

Recreation Committee Chairman Dana Chandler said members endorsed the merger. 

“It just made sense,” Chandler said. “Conservation had a small budget and was running out of people. Running the nature preserve and marking trails went along with Parks and Recreation.” 
Among various duties, the all-volunteer group plants flowers in the traffic medians, organizes and runs the Moore Park concerts and art show and maintains the baseball fields, Chandler said.
The seven-member group meets once a month.  
“I’ve spoken with both sides here,” Bernard said. “Everyone agrees that there needs to be more management of the Cornwall Preserve. With that one member, it’s difficult to organize.” 

Gary Kilgore opposed the idea on the grounds that the Recreation Committee was already busy. 

“(Joining two committees) is like hanging from an airplane with someone dangling from your feet,” Kilgore said. 

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