Efforts to remove a logjam from Tonawanda Creek that "spans the whole width of the channel" in Newstead are under way at an estimated cost of between $5,000 and $8,000.
"We are intending to get this logjam out before it gets worse or breaks loose and takes out the Cedar Street bridge," said Barlow N. Rhodes, an Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District representative, in a letter to Supervisor Donald C. Holmes. "We may be asking the town for equipment or money to accomplish this."
He said that the state Department of Environmental Conservation brought the problem to their attention. The site, he added, is north of Brunning Road, 150 yards east of Cedar Street between Newstead in Erie County and of Royalton in Niagara County.
"There are large trees that have fallen into Tonawanda Creek from both banks," Rhodes said. He added that the tree tops are jammed together entwined to effectively close the stream and catch all floating objects, including ice in the spring, which presents a threat to flooding Brunning Road on the upstream side of the jam.
"If the jam starts to move downstream, it will catch on and take out the Cedar Street bridge between the two counties," he continued. "The prudent thing to do is to remove this logjam from the creek saving thousands of dollars of damage in the future to public and private property."
Rhodes indicated that removing the logs from both banks would be easier using either a log skidder with a winch and a crew cutting and pulling the trees from the stream, or an excavator with a thumb that could reach out in to the stream to pick up the logs and then set them out on the bank.
An earlier effort by someone to set the logjam on fire and burn it was "without success," he said, adding: "All that burned was the tires they used to try and light the wood with. This is not an environmentally acceptable way to eliminate this logjam."
The conservation district report also notes that the towns of Newstead and Royalton, Erie and Niagara counties, the county highway departments of both counties, and the soil and water conservation districts of Erie and Niagara counties "have the most at risk" from the logjam.
Also, "the legislatures of both Erie and Niagara counties have a stake in preventing damage to their bridge," Rhodes said.