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Originally published May 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM | Page modified May 27, 2010 at 7:35 AM

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Heavy rains limit access to Walden Pond in Mass.

Heavy spring flooding has forced the state to cut summer access by nearly half at Walden Pond, which was made famous by author Henry David Thoreau, state officials said Wednesday.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, Mass. —

Heavy spring flooding has forced the state to cut summer access by nearly half at Walden Pond, which was made famous by author Henry David Thoreau, state officials said Wednesday.

The rains raised Walden Pond 4 feet above its average, submerging the beach and parts of a path around the pond. To prevent overcrowding and protect plants from being trampled, a maximum of 169 cars instead of the usual 300 will be allowed after Walden opens for the summer this weekend, said Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Rick Sullivan.

"We do have a concern of public safety, but we also have a concern in regards to the natural resources," he said.

The pond is famous for Thoreau's 1854 work "Walden," a social critique and commentary on nature that he wrote after living in solitude around Walden Pond for two years, two months and two days.

Sullivan said the glacial kettle-hole pond has no outlet and is fed by rainfall and groundwater, both of which have remained elevated since about 15 inches of rain fell in the Boston area in March.

Swimming will still be permitted in a designated area of the state reservation, which includes about 460 acres of protected open space, and workers have also cleared another path from which the pond remains visible, Sullivan said. Visitors will still be able to enjoy Walden Pond, he said, just not as many as during a normal year.

"We expect there will be disappointed people," Sullivan said. "Walden is a destination location. We did not want to close it totally."

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