Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 25, 2014

Randy Simons
Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868

New Irrigation System for Robert Trent Jones-Designed James Baird State Park Golf Course

$3 million project funded through New York Works

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced the completion of a new irrigation system for the Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course at James Baird State Park. The $3.2 million project is one of many being completed in the State Parks system with funding from the New York Works program.

"This has been a priority project for us for years," said Linda Cooper, Regional Director of Taconic State Parks and Historic Sites. "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership and funding, this beloved Hudson Valley course is now equipped with the tools to make it even better. With these improvements, we look forward to welcoming golfers of all abilities to enjoy the picturesque James Baird Golf Course and State Park."

Designed by Saratoga Associates, with construction by W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc., the new irrigation system is complete with a new pond and pump house. The project entailed removal of 64,000 cubic yards of soil to create the irrigation pond, with three wells installed to produce water for the pond. The pond has an EPDM (synthetic rubber) liner, which makes the pond independent of natural water fluctuations, thus not having an influence on nearby wetlands.

Three wells produce the water for the irrigation pond, while three 40-horsepower pumps push the water required to irrigate the course. Each of the pumps produces 350 gallons of water per minute. The state-of-the-art Toro irrigation system also includes over 600 sprinkler heads, with individual sprinkler head control, soil moisture sensors that relay soil temperature, moisture and salt levels. The system also features a weather station, which monitors air temperature, wind speed, rainfall and evapotranspiration rates, as well as a LYNX control system with iPad and radio controls. The entire irrigation system provides a smarter use of water and a greener course, benefitting golfers.

State Parks constructed the new pond with special ecological measure because of the presence of a threatened species, a Blanding's turtle. State Parks used 25,000 cubic yards of the soil removed to form the pond and established a permanent nesting habitat for the Blanding's turtle to thrive farther away from human activity. In the event that a turtle does make its way inside the fenced-in irrigation pond, there are escapes placed around the perimeter approximately every 75 feet, so that a turtle can leave the irrigation pond area without harm. The Chazen Companies, an engineering and consulting firm, provided guidance on the aspects of the project involving the Blanding's turtle.

The project was made possible through generous funding from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's NY Works program. Launched by Governor Cuomo in 2012, NY Works is advancing $421 million in repair and improvement projects at 109 state parks and historic sites across the state, including multiple facilities in the Taconic Region. The project also received $750,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal program which provides grants and funds to protect recreational and natural resources.

James Baird State Park is located in the Town of Lagrange, NY, conveniently located off an exit ramp from the Taconic State Parkway. The 18-hole golf course, which opened in 1948, was designed by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, who designed other courses for the New York State Parks system. The address for the park's pro shop is 280 Club House Road, Pleasant Valley, NY. Besides the golf course, the park also provides a driving range, a full-service restaurant/catering facility, as well as picnic areas, tennis courts, walking trails, and other recreational assets.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.