A decades-old tree was removed from the banks of the Tonawanda Creek today and the property owner hopes people understand -- it wasn't by his choice.
The tree removal is part of the Department of Environmental Conservation's effort to control flooding along the Tonawanda.
The location is off South Main Street Road, just east of the intersection with Fairway Drive (see map below).
Nate Fix, who owns Rebel Liners on West Main Street Road, bought the nine-acre parcel in 2005. Most of the land can only be used for agriculture. He can never build on it because of a DEC easement.
The DEC contacted Fix and told him about the tree removal and plans to cut away and deepen the creek bank.
"It was a beautiful old tree, but I understand why they're doing it," Fix said.
A few years ago, Fix said, floodwaters rose to about 4 feet on his property.
Mark Malinoski, DEC director of operations, said today that the project will provide more capacity for the Tonawanda in that section of the creek, which makes an abrupt right turn there before turning again sharply toward the west.
The improvements were recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Besides removing several tons of soil, the DEC contractors will strategically place bolders along the creek in order to dissipate the energy of water flow to slow erosion in that section.
The creek bed has moved several feet north since the 1930s. In fact, Fix's property line actually extends into the creek, which is anomaly along the creek through Genesee County.
Throughout most of the county, the creek and a bit of bank on each side are public property.
"I pay taxes on that portion of the property, too," Fix said.
The tree came down, Malinoski said, because of its proximity to the creek bank. Such trees actually speed up the erosion process because the water bores in at the roots and hollows out the bank around the roots.
Fix said the DEC offered him the wood from the tree as well as all the topsoil being removed. Fix gave the solid to his neighbor Bob Dickinson, owner of Dickinson Auto Service. Dickinson said he was thrilled to get the soil, which is filling in a large depression in the back of his lot.