I finally got up the courage to visit the Ledges last Sunday. It was a sad day.
TransCanada had repaired the roadway in, but the gate was locked. There was a sign stating that the health department had ruled the lake off-limits for swimming on 9/23/2011, but the lake had apparently been opened for boating earlier that week for the first time since the hurricane.
The lake level had been lowered dramatically since Irene went through, and I wondered why. I didn't have to wonder for long, though. Apparently a great deal of flotsam and jetsam had washed down the Deerfield River into Lake Whitingham, and until the lake level was lowered was floating on the surface, making navigation very hazardous. Tires, washing machines, furniture, the walls of small buildings, and propane tanks were all suspended in the water. But now that the water level is finally down, it is possible to begin the cleanup.
And what a cleanup it's going to need. While the stony ledges themselves didn't suffer too badly, the cove that makes up the sandy part of the Ledges beach area is a natural locus for collecting floating stuff from all over the lake, and it is literally buried in 2-3 feet of logs, trash, sticks, and other refuse. This can, in general, be separated into two categories: that which is reasonable to burn (mainly wood), and that which must be hauled out. We've made arrangements to take out the transportable stuff that needs to be removed by boat, starting next weekend (the 31st), weather permitting. We also started a large fire on Sunday and began the process of burning the wooden refuse. That's going take a lot longer than a weekend or two, although maybe if more people show up it will go faster. There is a deadline: over the winter, the water level will rise again, and refloat what we haven't cleaned up.
Since the gate remains locked, the only parking is along the swimming area roadway, which has a very limited capacity. Since the work is difficult/tiring anyway, and since swimming is unsafe, a dozen people at a time seems the ideal number.