It's been over two years since I began this feature series on Erie News Now called "The Last Word."  One of my most popular stories was on Labor Day two years ago when I traveled to a place in Chautauqua County called Skinny Dip Falls.

A lot of things have changed at that location since that time.

Skinny Dip Falls is located five miles outside the community of Westfield and its name says it all. I remember my first trip to the location very well. I asked local citizens about it before I ventured to the spot.

“I'm pretty sure they don't wear clothes," one man told me.

After walking nearly a mile down a steep, rocky, and slippery trail, a series of large painted rocks reminded me I was in a nudist area.  I didn't see any nudists that day, but the scenery was beautiful.   

Now, it's Labor Day 2023. Things have changed.  Visitors are greeted at the trailhead by signs erected by the Village of Westfield.  The signs say Skinny Dip Falls is now open only to those who come to hunt and fish.  All others, especially nude sunbathers, are not welcome.  The signs say trespassing regulations are being enforced by the county sheriff.    

Local government officials contacted State Assemblyman Andy Goodell for help after hearing complaints from a person who lives near Skinny Dip Falls.

"People were trespassing on his land obviously not wearing appropriate attire for his family and a lot of related problems with littering and excessive drinking and things of that nature,” says Assemblyman Goodell.  

No more skinny dipping at Skinny Dip Falls?  Could it be that our "Last Word" story two years ago contributed to the decision?  Assemblyman Goodell believes the story did not help matters.

"With today's Internet, when you put up an Internet posting that says this is Skinny Dip Falls, it implies that skinny dipping is allowable, or appropriate, or acceptable. That's never been the case," he said.  

The land where Skinny Dip Falls is located is owned by the Village of Westfield. It's the watershed for the village drinking supply.  According to the village clerk, rules limiting public access to that watershed have been in effect since 1937.  It's a shame, but recent behavior by a few visitors is forcing government leaders to enforce those rules.

The no trespassing signs have been posted for most of the summer.  However, people who are against the access restrictions have been taking them down and stealing them.    Government leaders say there are other beautiful areas of Chautauqua County to enjoy.  They still insist that visitors keep their clothes on.