While the health of Richmond Pond has been impacted by increasing anthropogenic insults and developments for hundreds of years, conservation efforts, responding to threats that began after the end of World War II and dramatically accelerated in the 1950s, only began in earnest during the 1970’s. Since then multiple struggles have raged with developers, scoff laws, and the eutrophic processes now endemic in the Pond.
Holly Stover, who was involved in so many of the efforts to protect the pond from the worst of the destructive forces, is currently penning a section of the upcoming Richmond Pond Association book exploring the history of the many efforts to manage pond health in the face of increasing over-development. I’ve read a rough draft of Holly’s work and it is a very interesting and important tale that you won’t want to miss.
This all ties neatly with an old aerial photo of Richmond Pond I found last week in a dusty, old file at Town Hall. I believe the photo was taken in the mid to late 1950’s and I thought it would be fun to compare it with recent satellite imagery so here’s a image juxtaposition slider for that:
As you can see, the 1950’s photo predates Town Beach Road, the boat launch, and the town beach. All of that infrastructure was built in 1969-70 with the first beach season in the summer of 1971. Beach vandalism began the same year.
Also interesting to note is the extra set of railroad tracks in the 1950’s version and the removal of the section of trees that would now have been so helpful to screen out Balderdash nuisance noise.
Anyway, yesterday afternoon following a walk-thru to discuss the ConCom’s effort to permanently conserve the last vestiges of (relatively) undeveloped pond shoreline and uplands, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and continued exploring along the northernmost extents of Richmond’s property in Pittsfield.
This property is part of a parcel purchased by Richmond in 1958 from the railroad as part of the effort to create the town beach. During the next two or three years I the town voted to turn down offers from developers to purchase this property. If they had not done so, not a speck of the pond’s shoreline would remain undeveloped. (And yes, it still surprises some to discover that Richmond’s Town Beach is actually located in Pittsfield!)
On my walk, I was so pleased to find stretches of beautiful wetlands, a few possible vernal pools, pretty stands of hardwoods, and a glorious glade of giant hemlocks tucked away — all worthy of permanent protection.
But, it is not undisturbed. I was angered by too many discarded containers, tossed beer cans and other trash — mostly concentrated near the pond’s shore. I will never, ever understand the selfish, uncaring ignorance of litterers.
And, there was also evidence of illegal trespass by off-road ATV use near the start of my walk. In a few areas, this idiocy has stripped all the vegetation and soil is eroding into the pond. I hope to find a way to close off the points where the ATVs are gaining access.
So. I work. I conserve. I hope.