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River of inspiration: The Merrimack drew Thoreau 175 years ago as it draws us today
Henry David Thoreau in an 1856 portrait by Benjamin D. Maxham. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Over the course of two weeks, they traveled first downstream on the Concord River, then upstream along the Merrimack River into New Hampshire, past Nashua, Manchester and Concord.
At the time of the journey, Thoreau was in his early 20s and two years out of Harvard. He was already a keen observer of nature and, arguably, a displeased observer of mankind.
The Forest Society is fond of another Thoreau quote, which it uses as inspiration for its aspirational strategic land conservation vision, New Hampshire Everlasting:
Today, 175 years after Thoreau's river expedition, the Merrimack still flows. But it is threatened. In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service identified the Merrimack watershed as the most threatened in the nation, due to projections of population growth and our reliance on land-intensive suburban development patterns.
Jack Savage is the executive editor of Forest Notes, the quarterly magazine of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on twitter at @JackatSPNHF.
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