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Fans of Thoreau’s Pond Worried For Its Future

July 13, 1987

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) _ Walden Pond preservationists fear recreational activity threatens vegetation at the place Henry Thoreau called home and want it designated a state historical sanctuary.

″This is a Henry David Thoreau sacred place; it is not Coney Island,″ said Mary Sherwood, founder of Walden Forever Wild.

The pond and surrounding reservation, about 84 acres some 15 miles west of Boston, are managed by the state and designated a recreation park. Members of Walden Forever Wild want it redesignated a state historical sanctuary.

On Sunday, the 170th anniversary of the writer-philosopher’s birth, Forever Wild members and other environmentalists discussed the future of the pond at a forum sponsored by the Thoreau Society.

Ms. Sherwood said members believe that swimming should be prohibited at the site, and visitor access should be monitored and controlled through permits.

She showed a petition she said contained 4,000 signatures from people all over the world calling for the redesignation. The group hopes to have another 1,000 signatures by September.

Edmund Schofield, a member of Walden Forevr Wild, said the life cycle of organisms living in and around the pond has been so badly damaged by swimming, fishing and noise that it will not recover unless access is limited.

″The state is using a kind of stopgap measure,″ he said. ″They are not relieving the stress on the ecosystem. The stress is the visitors.

″No competent manager would allow damage to the pond. I recommend that the state stop trying to be all things to all people.″

Donald Faron, principal supervisor of the reservation, said the state must honor tha 1922 deed transferring the land from the descendants of Ralph Waldo Emerson to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The deed calls for preserving Walden in the condition that Thoreau and Emerson knew it and the use of the land for the recreation of the people of the state, including swimming, fishing and picnicking, Faron said.

The state has tried to stop the banks of the pond from eroding and is trying to protect the pond area from a planned office development, he said.

″Walden is going to be there forever, and we have a lot of time,″ said Stuart Weinberg, planner of the reservation.

He said the state is concerned about the quality of the pond’s water and the surrounding woods, as well as providing the public with the recreational activities stipulated in the deed.

Thoreau, who died in 1862, lived alone at the pond from July 4, 1845, to Sept. 6, 1847. He wrote about his experiences in ″Walden,″ which was published in 1854.

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