A GROUP called the Walden Forever Wild Committee took the occasion of Henry David Thoreau's 170th birthday Sunday to urge a change in Walden Pond's status from recreational park to state historical sanctuary. Its plea raises again the question of access versus preservation for cultural and environmental treasures.
For all its historical resonance, Walden Pond is also the closest thing to a neighborhood swimming hole for all of metropolitan Boston. Walden's availability gives those wanting to cool off during the summer one more alternative to either the crowded public beaches operated by the Metropolitan District Commission, or the town beaches in communities practicing various forms of riffraff control - limited parking, etc.
It's not clear to us that Walden Pond would benefit from motorboats or office parks, to cite a couple of ``developments'' we've heard rumored. More study of the ecology of the 84-acre Walden reservation is probably a good idea.
But one of the strengths of New England is that so much history, so much bedrock American culture, is visible on the surface, is accessible daily to ordinary folks. Surely much can be done to preserve Walden without shutting it off from those who wish to enjoy it - recreationally or historically.