GOWANDA, NY (WIVB) As summer approaches, visitors to Zoar Valley, along Cattaraugus Creek in Goawanda, will notice new signage and new restrictions meant to keep everyone safe.
On Tuesday afternoon, the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Basil Seggos, announced that people can no longer go within 15 feet of any cliff edge at Zoar Valley. Cliff climbing is prohibited. Google maps no longer shows some of the unofficial trails to the more dangerous cliffs, and the most unsafe trails have been blocked off by brush.
Two additional forest rangers will be on patrol all summer, and 400 new signs are up for safety, according to Seggos. “Since we’ve put some of the signs up, some folks have actually taken them down and thrown them over the gorge and that’s unacceptable. That is akin to taking a stop sign away from the a four way intersection. You’re just putting somebody at risk. Do not take the signs down.”
One of the changes that will be implemented next year is a memorial to be placed in Valentine Flats with the pictures of some of the most recent accident victims. “I think that visual of seeing all the people that’ve lost their lives, I think that’s gonna be the most powerful thing when you come to Zoar Valley and you see the lives that are lost and you read about the beautiful people, I think that will be a significant change,” said Mary Beth Long, the mother of Conor Long, 20, who fell to his death at Zoar Valley in July of 2018.
Last August, Brooke Walker, 16, fell to her death near Valentine Flats. Many of these changes were driven by her mother Marla Walker. “Brooke was always inspiring me and was always wanting to make things better and she’s doing that still today.”