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With any luck, Lake Tomahawk will be filled with water again by the first of April.

"If any bad weather holds off, work can continue on the dam until the end of the month," Black Mountain town manager Matt Settlemyer said. "Repairs should be able to be made during March, and water be back in Lake Tomahawk by the end of the month."

More than 50 trees have been removed from the dam at the south end of Lake Tomahawk, and now the stumps are being removed and walking trail is being repaired.

Black Mountain crews removed the trees as a result of an order by the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Dam Safety Division. The state department said the trees on the dam posed a threat to the dam's structural integrity. The trees' root systems were a risk to earthen berm, especially at the spillway.

No damage had yet been caused, a prior study by the Army Corps of Engineers concluded, but the trees had to be removed. Steve McEvoy, state dam safety engineer, said that excessive seepage could cause total failure of the dam embankment.

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