Federal shutdown cancels dredging visit

The visit by Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Margaret Burcham to the Dunkirk Harbor and Hanover boat launch scheduled for Monday has been canceled due to the federal government shutdown. Another visit will be scheduled in the future.

According to County Legislator George Borrello, the 1:30 p.m. meeting at the Dunkirk pier and the 2:45 p.m. meeting at the town of Hanover boat launch to discuss possible dredging has been canceled. U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and the brigadier general were to be in attendance.

“I spoke directly with Drew Wayne from Congressman Reed’s office and he has promised me that they will reschedule it as soon as possible, once this shutdown is over,” Borrello said.

In July, Borrello met with federal, state and local officials and explained that Lake Erie is at historically low water levels. He added that the need for dredging is “beyond urgent” at a recent Hanover Town Board meeting.

Three harbors provide access to Lake Erie in Chautauqua County: Barcelona Harbor, Cattaraugus Creek Harbor in Hanover and Dunkirk Harbor. Cattaraugus Creek Harbor has not been dredged since 1983 and Barcelona Harbor has not been dredged since 1999, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Barcelona Harbor is scheduled to be dredged in May 2014. Borrello has said he hopes to secure funding so that Dunkirk and Hanover can be dredged while the equipment is in the area.

The federal government shutdown was in its fourth day Friday.