White Pond Summer of 2015
Erosion and Water Quality Control
To help prevent erosion, and to keep pond goers and dog walkers hiking on the correct
trails, additional cable and snow fencing was installed in several areas of concern around
Sachem's Cove. This deterrence was undoubtedly a success as visitors of White Pond are now
taking the non-eroded paths and there has already been a noticeable regrowth of native plant life
in the fenced off areas.
In addition to fencing, to help protect eroded slopes from degrading the water quality,
Coir logs and erosion control blankets were put in place by a group of about a dozen helpful
volunteers overseen by the Division of Natural Recourses. These erosion prevention measures
were a success as well. However, during one major hail and rainstorm, runoff was able to break
through underneath of the Coir logs in several areas. Overall, while they require some
maintenance after severe storms, during normal rainfall they certainly contributed and will
continue to contribute to preventing further erosion. As these measures have undoubtedly aided
the pond, it would be prudent to install additional Coir logs and erosion control blankets along
other areas of concern such as the Dover Street Beach, White Pond Associates Beach, the
Thoreau Camp boat launch and the Stone Root Beach.
One local resident, who is a frequent visitor and cares deeply about White
Pond, suggested that the Concord Carlisle high school use White Pond as a place to test and
study as part of their "rivers and revolutions" class. This would create an opportunity for younger
people to become more involved with preserving the area as well as allowing a new group that
would bring a diversity of different perspectives and ideas as to how to continue to restore and
preserve the area.
In the early weeks of the summer, there was an issue with people walking through the
Frost Farm residential area to come down the emergency access trail to White Pond. To help
prevent this occurrence from continuing, the Division of Natural Resources and the Concord
Trails committee created a new trail that allowed visitors to have a shorter walk and encouraged
people to not cut through Frost Farm and disturb the residences’ peace and quiet. In addition to
the new trail, signs were put in place and the entrance was roped off. This was a success, and the
number of people cutting through Frost Farm has gone down exponentially since the beginning
of the summer.
The enforcement of the swimming ban at White Pond has been a great success. The
number of daily visitors who come to the pond with the intention to swim has decreased
exponentially since the beginning of the summer. Weekdays in June averaged 25-28 people
present at any given time during the day with a total of 45-50 visitors. The weekends were
slightly higher with an average of 25-30 people present at any given time and a tally of daily
visitors usually over 50, or even reaching the high 60s. However, as the summer went on,
numbers began to decrease in the first half of July and then continued to drop dramatically for
the rest of the season. Weekdays in July saw an average of 8-12 people present at any given time
and daily visitors there with the intention to swim were rarely above 30. Like June, the weekends
were naturally more popular. Typically, there were 10-15 people present at any given time, but
daily totals were always around 35. August saw the most dramatic fall in attendance with an
average of 5-7 people present at any given time during the weekdays and total daily visitors
coming with the objective of swimming usually around 12-15. There were a few high weekend
days with large groups who came to swim, but overall, the numbers were only a little higher than
the weekdays with a daily average of 15-17 people. However, it should be noted that towards the
end of the month the numbers were even lower. To summarize, the summer started with an
average of approximately 400 total people attending White Pond weekly with the intention to
swim in Sachem’s Cove. The summer ended with averages of nearly 100 people per week, which
is a 75% reduction in attendance.
The reactions to the no swimming ban were generally that of acceptance, but occasionally
hostile. After a polite and extensive explanation of the rules, regulations and the reasoning
behind them, people were typically cooperative. The Concord Police never had to be contacted
by the Rangers to have them remove someone from the water, but there were several times,
especially earlier in the summer, where people had to be warned many times with threats of bylaw
fines and the police being alerted before the parties would finally cooperate. For those who
shared their thoughts, there were mixed consensuses and opinions as to why the ban was in
place. Approximately, 40 percent felt it to be in place for a good reason and contributing to the
preservation of White Pond, while around 60 percent saw it as “an elitist move to privatize the
area” or a “political decision.”
After the blue-green algae bloom, there was strong speculation among pond goers that the
bloom was fabricated by the town in order to keep people out. The Rangers informed people that
this was certainly not the case and that samples were taken every week by the state Department
of Health confirming the blooms existence. However, on the positive side, there was a large
amount of people every week who gave their thanks and gratitude for preserving an area that
they continue to love.
Before the bloom occurred, Sachem’s Cove saw a majority of Concord residents. Out of
town pond goers averaged at around 35-40 percent of the visitors. However, as Concord
residents heard about the bloom and the ban on swimming, news failed to spread to other areas
and by the end of the summer the majority of visitors were from out of town. The main visitors
were from are as follows from greatest to smallest: Sudbury, Maynard, Acton, Lincoln, Weston,
Littleton, Newton, Somerville, Cambridge and the Boston area.
In mid-June, "no swimming", "keep the dogs on leash" and "no biking" signs were put
into place in several areas surrounding the pond. During the first few weeks, these signs were
vandalized and removed altogether by visitors of the pond. However, the signs were checked
every day and replaced when needed and soon these acts stopped as whomever was committing
them understood that their attempts were futile. Signs were also put up asking people to stay on
the correct trails to help avoid erosion. These signs were rarely vandalized. A short while after
installing the Coir logs, large metal signs were put into place along Sachem's cove and at the
Concord and Sudbury entrances to the pond. The signs read,
"Please help preserve and protect the White Pond environment. Stay on marked trails
only – no bikes! Keep dogs on leash at all times. Observe no swimming postings while
we conduct trail and bank maintenance. Thank you for your cooperation. Per vote of the
select board and natural resources commission."
The signs have been incredibly effective and are almost impossible not to notice. Since the new
signs have been put up, people have been more aware of the reasoning behind the swimming ban
and have acted in a more cooperative man0r.
Parking at White Pond
There have been no issues with pond goers parking in permitted areas on Plainfield Rd,
Dover St., Bolton St, Darton St, Shore Dr., Varick St, and Hemlock St. During busy times when
the Varick St. parking area fills up, people either park on Alden and Anson streets or in the
Montessori school parking area in Sudbury off of 117. The Concord Police Department, as well
as the Concord Rangers, monitor the streets surrounding White Pond every day. The CPD has
also been keeping track of the legal parking on Alden and Anson, which has gone down as the
number of people attending White Pond Reservation has decreased.
Town Forest Lots
There was an issue with visitors of Walden Pond parking in the Town Forest Handicap
Parking Lot. On hotter days when the pond reached capacity, Walden would shut down their lots
and overflow parking would take up the town forest lot on Walden St, across from Concord
Carlisle High School, but also the handicap town forest lot further up on Walden St. The rangers
issued an average of 6-8 $100 handicap parking violations per month with a total of 20 for the
entirety of the summer.
The average number of dog walkers per day has stayed at a fairly consistent level for the
entirety of the summer, averaging 4-6 dog walkers on weekdays and weekends. Many people
have voiced their displeasure with the new regulations requiring all dogs to be on leashes as well
as banning dogs from the water. However, while there were complaints, the large majority did
understand the reasoning behind these new laws and were cooperative. Many of those frequent
visitors to the pond have returned with their dogs on leashes, obeying all rules. When the bluegreen
algae bloom developed, rarely was anyone uncooperative because they understood the risk
and feared their dog could get sick. The majority of dog walkers come from neighboring towns
such as Sudbury and Acton.
After the permanent metal signs were installed, the number of bikers has greatly
decreased from 5 bikers a week before the signs to 1 or 2 a week after they were put up. Most of
the bikers had seen the signs when they entered and were fully aware that they were violating the
regulations, but did not wish to turn around or leave their bicycles unattended at the entrance to
White Pond Reservation. It was brought up by several bikers (and is already being discussed)
that the town place bike racks at the Concord entrances to the pond so visitors would feel
comfortable safely locking their bikes up instead of riding them down the trails.
During the first few weeks of Rangers patrolling Sachem’s Cove, it was not uncommon
to see empty beer cans, glass bottles, cigarette butts and other litter left along the shore and in the
woods. However, while there is still littering at the Pond, there has been a great reduction since
the start of the summer. This can be attributed to the decrease in attendance as well as the
Rangers reminding people to always bring out what they carry in. Many visitors of White Pond
as well as the Rangers collect litter to ensure the Cove stays clean and untainted.
Birds and Wildlife:
While there were some concerns with the attendance of birds in White Pond Reservation
this summer, overall the bird life has actually been quite active ranging from ospreys to even a
few sightings of a bald eagle in mid and late August. The pond has seen an abundance of
woodpeckers with frequent visits by the downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker and the pileated
woodpecker. There have also been regular sightings of great blue herons, belted kingfishers,
northern cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, barred owls and much more. Two dead birds were
found on the shoreline by Sachem's Cove July 8th and 9th one of which was a newborn. These
deaths could have been attributed to the algae bloom or other non-related circumstances.
However, in good news, no other bird deaths were noted for the rest of the summer.
As for other creatures, the turtles of White Pond have become much more active with the
large decrease in swimmers. The most common are the painted turtles, which will poke their
heads out of the water to look around and sunbathe on any logs they find by the edge of the
shore. According to local pond goers, there have also been sightings of foxes, coyote, wild
turkey, and deer.
The average of fishermen per day has gone down since the beginning of the summer, but
that can be attributed to a less active pond for trout fishing as the water gets warmer and the trout
go deeper and become harder to catch. June averaged 6-10 fishermen a day, but July and August
only averaged 5-7. Fishermen have been catching bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish, smallmouth
bass, as well as rainbow and brown trout. Almost all fishing that has occurred is catch and
release, although rainbow trout are the most frequent type of fish taken home.
Overall, the fish in the pond seem to be healthy. All fish caught look like they are active,
eating and doing well. There is also activity throughout each day along the shoreline with
largemouth bass chasing pumpkinseed and bluegill sunfish. There has not been a noticeable high
fish kill at any time this summer. A few fish have washed up on shore, but up to the last counts
are less than a half a dozen all summer.
During the past three months, hundreds of invasive species plants have been removed.
When it comes to invasive plants, the main problem White Pond and the land surrounding it
faces is oriental bittersweet. A very large amount of bittersweet has been removed from the trails
and Cove area, but some patches remain which have been marked with a GPS and mapped out
for future removal. There has also been buckthorn, honeysuckle, multiflora and a very small
amount of purple loosestrife.