CHINA — The town committee responsible for managing Thurston Park has hired a forester to thin out crowded areas in half of the park.

Harold Burnett, a forester and owner of Two Trees Forestry in Winthrop, will do some light logging east of Yorktown Road, according to Jeanette Smith, secretary of the Thurston Park Committee.

Anything west of the road, however, will be left in a natural state, she said.

The harvesting is expected to bring the committee about $8,000, depending on the market. The committee then plans to reinvest the money in the park for trail maintenance and building, Smith said.

The original trails were all built using grant money.

“We’d really like … the park to be somewhat self-sufficient,” she said.

The committee also has incurred costs from vandalism, she said. Occasionally a sign will be stolen, which can add up over time.

The decision to harvest comes after a long hiatus in cutting at the 400-acre property. In 2007, a forester surveyed the area and said the park’s timber didn’t need to be harvested any more for about 10 years, Smith said.

“The forest has been severely overcut historically,” said Judy Stone, who acts as the forestry liaison on the committee because of her background.

When the committee first formed, the members surveyed townspeople to find out what they wanted them to do with the property.

Stone said people most valued “a quiet place to take a walk with bigger trees.”

There was some interest in using the forest for motorized recreation as well, she said.

Burnett plans to “improve the stand” of the forest during the late summer, taking out scraps and harvesting crowded areas to promote better tree growth, Smith said.

While harvesting typically takes place in winter, Stone said Burnett prefers the summer because it’s more consistent and he doesn’t have to worry about the ground thawing.

Burnett plans to hold a tour of the forest along with Maine Woodland Owners from 9 a.m. to noon June 17.

The committee received authorization to receive money from the town’s tax increment financing, or TIF, district in March at Town Meeting. The TIF committee first approved the request, which voters later approved without much discussion.

Stone said $40,000 is needed to improve access to the park, which can be difficult in some areas for those without four-wheel drive vehicles.

At the north end of the park, the panel plans to ditch the area and reset the culvert, adding gravel if needed. In the preliminary request, the committee said that the majority of the money — about $22,000 — will go toward repairing the roads into the park. Other improvements include $7,500 to replace a bridge, $1,500 to replace a gate and $5,000 to install a composting toilet.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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