Campground by lake in Carlton expected expansion, not erosion and flooding this year

Photos by Tom Rivers: Don Anderson, co-owner of Green Harbor Campground and Marina in Carlton, looks at a flooded section of the campground. The flooding has made about a third of the marina’s 100 camp sites off limits, as well as all 30 boat slips, and abut 700 feet of beachfront.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2017 at 3:38 pm

Barb Anderson is pictured with sandbags placed by the National Guard to help contain some of the flooding at the campground and marina.

Green Harbor Campground has been inundated with water past month

CARLTON – Barb and Don Anderson took a walk on the beach on Easter Sunday on April 16. Opening day for their campground was around the corner.

They had a new $200,000 septic system in place, which followed many upgrades in their 12 years of owning Green Harbor Campground & Marina, with water, electric and numerous facility improvements. There were expected to add 18 camp sites to the existing 100 this year.

A couple days after Easter, the lake was on the rise and on the move. A month later and their beach is covered in water. About 35 of the 100 camp sites – the ones closest to the lake – aren’t usable because of the flood waters. A channel for boaters has gone from a narrow slip to wide waters. About 20 feet of land along the channel has been eroded.

“It’s really sad to see,” said Barb Anderson. “It makes you sick.”

The Andersons have delayed the campground’s opening from April 28 to Memorial Day Weekend. They are hopeful about two-thirds of the campground can open. The sites closer to the lake could take a while to be ready. First the water has to go down – and then it will take a massive cleanup. Each day brings a new collection of floating logs, sediment and other debris from the lake.

The beach was cleared of debris about a month ago. Now it is full of logs, branches and other debris brought in by the waves from the lake. “It’s going to take a lot of work to clean this up,” Don Anderson said.

The Andersons said the campground is normally a colorful display of flowers this time of year, with well-maintained lawns from the campers. Instead, brown water is spread over many of the camping spots.

“The people here really take care of their sites,” Mr. Anderson said. “Right now, it’s just awful.”

The Andersons are Pittsburgh natives. They owned a site in Findlay Lake, Chautauqua County, for 15 years before acquiring Green Harbor 12 years ago. They filled 17 dumpsters the first year they owned Green Harbor. The campground is located off Lakeshore Road on the western end of Carlton near the Yates town line.

Al Cheverie of the Orleans County Health Department took this photo from a drone last Thursday. It shows the channel that used to be narrow, with barely room for two boats to pass each other. It’s about 20 feet wider now after erosion.

They have made steady improvements and attracted new campers by word of mouth. They had a waiting list of 20 more seasonal campers this year, and were planning on adding 18 new sites. But those plans are on hold.

“We don’t want to go deeper in debt,” Barb said.

They are losing revenue with cancelled sites, and lost sales for propane, gas, and for items in their store.

Many of their campers spend money at other local restaurants, stores and businesses, feeding the local economy. But the campground has yet to open and it’s eerily quiet.

“This is like a whole town gone,” Don Anderson said.

This sign by the lake used to be anchored in land. But about 20 feet of the jetty has been eaten away by the lake.

The Andersons were drawn to Green Harbor because they said there aren’t too many campgrounds along the lake with a beach and a marina. Campers can enjoy the lake, whether boating or just relaxing by the shoreline.

But the high waters and flooding have taken away those assets for at least the short-term.

The Andersons say another key asset remains: the friendliness of the campers. Many of them have reached out saying they will be back and are eager to help with the clean up.

This morning, one of the camper’s gazebo with patio furniture was floating down the channel and out into the lake. Two local residents hopped into a rowboat and retrieved the items.

It’s a surreal sight, the logs, drainage pipes, tennis shoes and other random items that are floating at the campground.

This section of the beach was clean and free of debris a month ago. Now there is driftwood and other items all over.

There used to be a row of rocks visible here at the western jetty at the marina. But most of the rocks are now underwater.

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