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Storms Bring Plenty Of Debris To Chautauqua Lake

Workers cleared 30 truckloads of debris from Chautauqua Lake following last week’s storms. The debris largely consisted of dead trees that fell into local creeks and ended up in the lake. Photos by the Chautauqua Lake Association

Thirty truckloads of debris have been removed from Chautauqua Lake following last week’s storms.

The debris has largely consisted of dead trees — some 3 feet in diameter — that toppled into local creeks before making their way through tributaries and eventually into the lake. A bevy of workers have made a “complete circle” of the lake to collect the material, with a second sweep to gather more planned, said Doug Conroe, Chautauqua Lake Association executive director.

Conroe believes a lot of the debris originated from Ball Creek and Bemus Creek, with some also coming from Dewittville Creek. Crews with the CLA gathered enough material to fill 21 trucks in the last few days, while Bemus Point village workers collected an additional nine truckloads.

“We’ve got the worst of it out, but not all of it,” Conroe said of the debris.

In all, Conroe estimates half a million pounds of wood from the lake will end up being transported to the county landfill’s debris site.

“We’ve got the lake fairly well cleared,” said Conroe, who believes the soft ground played a role in many of the dead trees ending up in local creeks and eventually the lake. He has so far received no reports of trees falling in from the shores of Chautauqua Lake.

Getting the trees removed from the water was important.

“If a watercraft or boater hit one of those, that could have caused serious damage to the vessel and injuries to the individual on the lake,” Conroe said. “People really shouldn’t have been out there (following the storms), It’s just hazardous, high-flowing water, and the silt that came in from the tributaries made the lake cloudy. You didn’t have the visibility to see the trees. You may have seen the branches sticking out and think it’s just a branch and not seeing it attached to a full-sized tree.”

Heavy rain that came from storms last week resulted in brief flooding conditions in some spots, including properties on Shore Acres near Bemus Creek. At one point Friday, residents had to be evacuated due to flooding.

Numerous roads throughout the south county also were briefly closed because of the water.

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