WILTON — A healthy woodlot, aesthetics and recreation were noted as high priorities for a forest-management plan for the town’s Kineowatha Park.

A survey completed by the Recreation Committee also indicated that safety and grants or government cost-sharing are priorities, forester Peter Tracy told approximately 20 residents and members of the Conservation Commission on Monday.

With $2,500 from a Project Canopy grant, Tracy was hired by the town to create a forest-management plan for the 65-acre property. He intends to finish it by late fall, he said.

The Project Canopy grant, a collaboration between the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine, provides for the development and implementation of forest projects and programs.

This was the first of two public meetings to be held during the process, Recreation Director Frank Donald said.

He said he foresees minimal or light tree-cutting on the property, which borders Wilson Lake.  

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A study of what is there has started, he said. The information will be used to develop the plan. It’s not about what he wants, but what the residents of Wilton want to see, he said.

While aesthetics was important, some voiced a desire to keep the experience of walking through the woods. They want to keep the area as natural as possible and not “cleaned up too much.”

“Everything I do is a recommendation,” Tracy said.

Resident Conrad Heeschen encouraged residents to be clear about what outcome they would like to see.

Those attending agreed with the priorities. Wildlife, especially loon nesting sites, vegetation and educational signage, also were listed as important.

They also discussed the approximately two miles of trails winding through the park.

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“We want to improve the trails we already have and not make new trails,” Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

Plans include applying for a $35,000 Maine Department of Conservation grant this fall to work on the trails, she said.

Safety for those walking and signage, including educational labeling of trees and vegetation, for the multiuse trails was discussed.

Resident Dennis Landry expressed more concern about the lake and access to it rather than the trail work. He suggested the need was to find a better way to get to the lake.

For others, improvement of the trails meant getting more use out of the park.

It’s about tweaking what’s there and making it better, Donald said.

Funding will need to come from grants or harvesting, Selectman Thomas Saviello said, as there is no money in the town budget.

Saviello also suggested leaving sections to show the difference between a forest that is managed and one that is not managed. He also suggested asking Forster Technology forestry students to be involved in the work.

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