July 23, 2004
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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The contents of the on-line edition of The Nugget represent a selection among the stories that appear in the weekly print edition.

Health warning lifted from Suttle Lake
By Jim Cornelius, News Editor

The algae-related health advisory at Suttle Lake that had kept vacationers out of the water -- and away from campsites and the lakeside resort -- has been lifted.

Swimmers and boaters were back in the water over the weekend, according to Tammy Patterson at The Lodge at Suttle Lake.

"It's been beautiful over the weekend," she said. "The water's clear and swimmers and everybody are in the water."

Kris Martinson of the Sisters Ranger District confirmed that the health advisory had been lifted because "the level of algae in the lake has gone down significantly."

Martinson said that "there's still some uncertainty about what the lake is going to do over the rest of the summer, but at this time there is no health advisory that relates to swimming or other water contact."

The U.S. Forest Service posted signs along the lake shore just before the Fourth of July weekend warning visitors to stay out of the water due to the presence of "blue-green algae."

The algae is toxic to humans and animals, according to the health safety warning posted at the lake.

The closure had a definite impact on the resort, according to owner Rhonda Sneva.

"It didn't have much effect on locals because they're aware that this is a natural effect of all the lakes in Oregon in the early summer," she said.

News of the closure did, however, have a major impact on visitors from the metropolitan areas.

Many visitors canceled reservations.

"We've been seriously affected by those cancellations," Sneva said.

The closure also affected campground bookings.

A local camper noted that she pulled right into a camp site last week, something she couldn't ordinarily do in the middle of July.

The folks at the resort made the best of the situation with a little humor -- offering "blue -green algae martinis" to diners.

The drinks were a big hit at the weekly barbecue and live music event on July 15.

Patterson said the word has gotten out quickly that the popular lake is cleared for action.

"I was on the phone all day yesterday (Sunday, July 18) answering questions: Is the water clear? Can we go in? And the answer is 'Yes,'" Patterson said.

For more information call 549-7700.

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