WELLFLEET — In the 60 years that Robert “Buddy” Paine has lived on the family’s campground, he’s seen the forest change from pine to oak. He’s watched his four children and eight grandchildren run barefoot through the trees, just as he did as a boy.

But Paine, 61, will be leaving the forest at 180 Old King’s Highway at the end of this summer. The state Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) purchased Paine’s Campground last week for $3.6 million, he said. It is assessed at $2.15 million, according to Wellfleet Assessor Nancy Vail.

The 28-acre campground with 155 campsites will be taken over by the DCR, which will continue to run it as a state-owned campground similar to Nickerson State Park in Brewster.

The sale of the property puts a cap on happy memories for generations of Paines but also ends years of litigation in Land Court waged by neighbors who challenged the title to the property.

“We just got tired of fighting,” Paine said Monday afternoon in the wood-paneled living room in the house by the campground where he and his wife, Sheila, live each summer.

After spending more than $1 million in legal fees, the Paines prevailed in court. But with the final Land Court registration still pending, they agreed to a friendly eminent domain taking as a way to clear the title once and for all, he said.

The DCR had been eyeing the property for years as a way to extend the Cape Cod Rail Trail along the right of way that runs along the campground. The extension will be from LeCount Hollow Road, passing the campground and onto to Route 6 in Wellfleet, said Troy Wall, DCR spokesman. The state's plan will connect Nickerson State Park and Paine's with a bike trail, he said. It is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2020, he said.

The Paines have had ongoing talks not just with the state but also with developers. At one point, a developer made a proposal for 200 homes, half of which would be affordable, he said. The deal would have added millions to the sale price, but it just didn’t feel right.

“It was really important to not see it developed,” said Sheila Paine.

Perhaps it was the hippie strain in his family’s genes, which goes back to Buddy’s parents, Robert and Cynthia Paine. Starting in 1958 they ran the campground during summers when not teaching school. They brought along their seven children. At first, they lived in a large tent. Beginning in 1964, the children moved into a converted school bus, while the parents stayed in the tent. Eventually the family spread out into a green trailer, and then a mobile home, according to documents filed in Land Court. The house where Buddy and Sheila now spend summers was built in 1975.

All of Sheila’s and Buddy’s children grew up working at the campground, learning people skills and money management, Sheila said. Many well-established Wellfleet residents first came to town as guests of Paine’s Campground. They include playwright Gip Hoppe and builder Bruce Birchall.

“We could name a whole slew of people who came here and fell in love with this place and made it their home,” Buddy said.

The state’s stewardship of the campground will allow people to continue to enjoy Wellfleet on a budget, Sheila said. The state charges about half as much for campsites as private owners, said Shaun Provencher, the DCR land specialist who attended a selectmen’s meeting in March to get their approval for the eminent domain taking.

As for Buddy and Sheila, they’ll move to the other side of the highway to his now-deceased father’s home in Paine Hollow, named for his ancestors who settled Wellfleet hundreds of years ago.

“The oldest Paine house is pre-Revolutionary War,” he said.