White Deer Tours Returning to Seneca Army Depot

A pregnant female white deer roams the Depot. Soon, the Depot will be open to responsible tourism for Finger Lakes travelers.

Tours of the former Seneca Army Depot will start in the fall of 2017 under an agreement between Seneca White Deer, Inc. and Deer Haven Park, LLC. Seneca White Deer (SWD) plans to conduct a full-scale program of bus tours at the former Depot. The tours will feature the world’s largest herd of white, white-tail deer and other wildlife, as well as military and historic artifacts on the site in the Town of Varick, near Seneca Falls, NY.

Dennis Money, SWD President, said, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer tours beginning this fall. These white deer are a real treasure and to make them accessible to the public is a dream come true.” He added, “We don’t have a start date for the tours yet, but we expect to have that soon. We are developing a new website that will allow visitors to see available dates and times so they can book tours online.” Preparations for the tour program also include construction of a welcome center on the Depot, hiring staff, training volunteers, and tour route preparation.

Earl Martin of Deer Haven Park said, “I believe the survival of the white deer will depend on the success of these tours. It’s great to have Seneca White Deer on board for the tours. They have an excellent track record and a real commitment to the deer.”

Earl Martin, Deer Haven Park owner (left), and Dennis Money, Seneca White Deer president plan a tour program at the former Seneca Army Depot in fall 2017.

 

SWD Congratulates Earl Martin on Winning SWD Bid

Bob Aronson & Earl Martin croppedSeneca White Deer Inc. (SWD) congratulated Earl Martin on the selection of his bid for purchase of the former Seneca Army Depot. Last December, the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which currently owns the Depot, invited bids to purchase all or a portion of the Depot. Mr. Martin was selected as the winning bidder in June.

SWD President Dennis Money said, “Although we were disappointed that our bids for the Depot weren’t selected, we’re glad that the IDA picked a bid with a strong deer management plan. We’re encouraged by Mr. Martin’s enthusiasm and attitude toward protecting this valuable environmental resource.” SWD had partnered with the Town of Varick on a Depot bid for the land in that town and had entered a second bid for another portion of the property.

In response to questions about funds that SWD had raised to purchase Depot property, Money said, “After submitting our bids, we have significant funds remaining. We plan to use these in support of the deer management program and perhaps to support visitor facilities. We thank everyone who has generously contributed to our effort.”

Money continued, “We’ve met with Mr. Martin several times and have an ongoing dialog regarding his plans. We’re encouraged by our initial discussions and we are optimistic that we can work productively together to bring the wonder of the white deer to the public.”

He continued, “We understand that Mr. Martin currently has his hands full getting all the details settled to finalize the purchase of the property. It may be quite a while before a full-scale visitor program will be in place. We commend his immediate efforts to increase the deer’s food supply by planting crops that will nourish them, even before he has closed on purchase of the property.”

Martin has planted soybeans on the northern portion of the former Depot and announced plans to plant other crops, such as clover, grasses and turnips to help rebuild the white deer population. He has stated that he would like to open the property to the public to see the white deer next spring.

Money said, “It’s great that Mr. Martin is not only protecting the deer, but making plans to share them with the public. This has always been one of our highest priorities.” SWD is continuing to discuss the organization’s role in Mr. Martin’s deer management and visitor program.

IDA Selects Winning Depot Bid

white-buck_1The Seneca County Industrial Development Agency announced that it has voted to sell the remaining portion of the former Seneca Army Depot to Earl Martin. This is good news for Seneca White Deer, Inc.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. is pleased that the IDA has selected Mr. Martin’s bid for the Depot. We have had preliminary discussions with Mr. Martin regarding our role in the protection of the wildlife on the former Depot. Our goals appear to be consistent and mutually beneficial.

We are optimistic that we can work out details of a plan that will preserve the property’s potential as an ecotourism center, as well as maximize the business development opportunities of the land.

Mr. Martin is a respected local businessman. We are comfortable working with him in this important project. Successful redevelopment of the former Depot will bring the County and the region new jobs, new opportunities and a great new tourist facility.

Seneca White Deer Joins Heron Hill in Special Wine Release – Sold Out!

Seneca_White_Deer_v2Seneca White Deer Board members will join Heron Hill Winery for the release of a new wine to benefit Seneca White Deer, Inc. The new blend, named Save the White Deer, blends unoaked Chardonnay with wild-fermented Riesling. With each bottle sold of the wine, $2 will go directly to benefit the Seneca White Deer, Inc (SWD). The wine will be released in all three Heron Hill tasting rooms on Saturday, May 7th, 2016.

SWD board members will visit all three Heron Hill tasting rooms from 12 PM to 4 PM to answer your questions and provide information about the future vision to establish a world-class ecotourism destination at the former Seneca Army Depot. Heron Hill Winery and owners John and Josephine Ingle have actively supported SWD since 2010.

Save the White Deer wine is a blend of 72% Riesling (from Ingle Vineyard on the west side of Canandaigua Lake) and 28% Chardonnay; this semi-dry blend is a refreshing wine to enjoy in the spring and summer. Beginning May 7, Save the White Deer wine will be available to purchase online at wwww.heronhill.com and in all three Heron Hill tasting rooms including Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport, Heron Hill Tasting Room at Bristol in Canandaigua, and Heron Hill Tasting Room on Seneca Lake in Himrod.

2014 back label draftHeron Hill Winery has been committed to excellence in winemaking since 1977.  Barry Tortolon is Heron Hill’s current winemaker. Year after year, Heron Hill Winery situated on a shale hillside overlooking scenic Keuka Lake, produces a full range of carefully crafted cool climate wines including Rieslings, Chardonnays, Vinifera reds and the popular Eclipse Series. In addition to Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake, Heron Hill has tasting rooms on the west side Seneca Lake and the west side Canandaigua Lake.

Nashville Singer/Songwriter Inspired by Seneca White Deer

whitedeer

Nashville area singer/songwriter and musician, Cathy Lynn Wilson, has written and recorded an original piece, “The Archer” and dedicated it to the effort to save the Seneca White Deer. The song tells the story of a hunter who encounters a white stag deep in the forest.

Listen here

“Hopefully, this will be something that might encourage people to value the preservation of the white deer herd and other animals and the property at the Depot,” said Cathy, referring to Seneca White Deer, Inc.’s effort to acquire a portion of the former Seneca Army Depot to establish an ecotourism center that would protect and preserve the world’s largest heard of white, white-tailed deer.

Cathy Wilson is a native of Cookeville, TN, in the outskirts of the Nashville area. She has a flair for conveying her passion and life perspective through folk and Celtic ballads. She has taught guitar and songwriting in area art and performance schools, performed locally, as well as “spent a lot of time writing music over the years,” she said. Her music is inspired by faith, family, friends, and the hills of Tennessee. More of Cathy Lynn’s Music is available at reverbnation.com/cathylynnwilsonmusic and soundcloud.com/CathyWilson.

The song in turn inspired her friend and artist Adrienne Stone to create a painting for the song’s cover art. According to Adrienne, “My painting, inspired by Cathy Wilson’s song ‘The Archer,’ is my contribution to the Seneca White Deer Inc.” More of her work is available on her website at adriennestone.com.

 

THE ARCHER

 

The archer, and the arrow, and the bow

Went high into the mountains full of snow

He said I’ll kill the greatest stag alive,

And we will have a hearty feast tonight.

Oh, oh, oh, oh. 

 

He left before the breaking of the dawn.

And he waited in silence for so long.

But at last the stag appeared from deep within,

The dense forest haven he lived in.

Oh, oh, oh, oh. 

 

The archer sat in silence,

And he marveled at the sight,

Of the stag so majestic, 

Like a warrior dressed in white.

His passion for the hunt

Had always driven him to score. 

But the beauty of the creature

Never conquered him before.

 

The archer, empty-handed 

Finally turned, homeward bound.

Picked up the bow and arrow 

That he laid there on the ground. 

And though he had no prize,

He was fully satisfied,

In awe and admiration

For the warrior clothed in white. 

 

The archer, and the arrow, and the bow

Went high into the mountains full of snow

He said I’ll kill the greatest stag alive,

And we will have a hearty feast tonight.

Oh, oh, oh, oh. 

 

Lyrics and music by Cathy Lynn Wilson, copyright 2015, *Used with permission.

Ingles Continue Matching Grant Challenge $200,000 Donation

John and Josephine Ingle, owners of Heron Hill Winery, are continuing the matching challenge grant donation of $200,000 with Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) toward purchase of a portion of the former Seneca Army Depot, according to Dennis Money, SWD president.

The fund raising drive began with the generous matching challenge donation on December 22, 2015 and was previously set to expire February 29, 2016, when bidding on the former Depot property ended. Money said that SWD has submitted a bid with the Town of Varick to acquire the parcel of land that lies within the township’s boundaries to establish the Seneca White Deer Park, an ecotourism complex that will host a number of public activities and services for tourists year round. Money also believes the Park’s tourism draw will have a positive impact on the local economy from occupancy and sales tax revenues.

Starr 2

© Barbara Starr

The Depot owners, the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), are selling up to 7,000 acres of the 11,000-acre former war munitions storage facility either in whole and/or in part. The bidding process has now closed.

Money stated: “We are very grateful for the tremendous support of the Ingles as well as the help from all of our backers.”   He added that “SWD has solicited the assistance of an outside marketing and fundraising team to extend the group’s financial outreach into other areas of the country in order to meet the Ingles’ matching challenge. “

Seneca White Deer Inc., a 501(c) (3) not for profit organization, was formed in 1999 with the mission of conserving the abundant wildlife as well as preserving the history of the Seneca Army Depot. SWD believes strongly that the depot could be a positive economic engine for the Finger Lakes Region offering a unique tourism opportunity found nowhere else in the world.

SWD feels the former Seneca Army Depot belongs to all Americans. It is a crown jewel of a natural resource filled with abundant wildlife and a rich history. Please consider a donation for this very worthy effort.

The Bids Are In…But We Still Need Your Help!

The Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) reported that they have received 16 bids for property on the former Seneca Army Depot. That means that Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) is bidding against 15 other parties for a piece of the Depot.

a_gio6whitedeercover

SWD President Dennis Money said, “It may be in IDA’s hands now…but it is not over! It’s important that the IDA members and the Board of Supervisors advisory panel hear from our supporters. They need to know how important our bid is to the future of the County, the white deer and the military history of the Depot. The public could lose all access to the deer that are the trademark of Seneca County if the wrong bids are accepted.”

Money also thanked all the SWD supporters who contacted the members of the Board of Supervisors earlier this year. “Even though they didn’t act in our favor, they heard the message loud and clear,” said Money, “and they need to hear it again!”

© Barbara Starr

© Barbara Starr

The IDA has said that it will not necessarily accept the highest bid, but will consider the best use of the land and which bid best benefits Seneca County. We feel our bid offers the best combination of community benefits and protection of the white deer that live on the Depot.

Please contact the following to voice your support for SWD’s bid. Let them know you support the Seneca White Deer, Inc. plan for the Depot.

The IDA members are the most important. They have not announced a panel to review the bids, so all are equally important. Many of the Board of Supervisors have heard from you, but it’s important to contact them again, because this is a different process and a different opportunity for us.

Cindy Lorenzetti, David Kaiser, Paul Kronenwetter and Gary Westfall are on the team that will review and advise the IDA’s bid review process.

 

IDA Board of Directors:

Thomas Macinski,  [email protected]

Steven Brusso,  [email protected]

Robert Kernan,  [email protected]

Thomas Kime,  [email protected]

Bruce Johnson, [email protected]

Cindy Garlick Lorenzetti,  [email protected]

Erica Paolicelli,  [email protected]

Stephen Wadhams,  [email protected]

Valerie J. Bassett,  [email protected]

The mailing address for IDA members is:

Seneca County Industrial Development Agency
Seneca County Office Building
One DiPronio Drive
Waterloo, NY 13165

 

Board of Supervisors:

All Supervisors,  [email protected]

Cindy Garlick Lorenzetti,  [email protected]

Alfred “Walt” Prouty Jr.,  [email protected]

David Kaiser,  [email protected]

Don Trout,  [email protected]

Gary Westfall,  [email protected]

Gregory P. Lazzaro,  [email protected]

Paul Kronenwetter, [email protected]

Lee Davidson,  [email protected]

Michael Reynolds,   [email protected]

Robert Shipley, [email protected]

Robert W Hayssen,  [email protected]

Ron McGreevy, [email protected]

Stephen J Churchill,  [email protected]

Greg Wadhams, [email protected]

Mailing address for the Board of Supervisors is:

Seneca County Board of Supervisors
Seneca County Office Building
One DiPronio Drive
Waterloo, NY 13165

 

County Manager

John Sheppard,  [email protected]

 

TOWN OF VARICK ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH SENECA WHITE DEER, INC.

Robert “Bob” Hayssen, supervisor for the Town of Varick, located in Seneca County, has announced that the Town of Varick and Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD), have struck a partnership to work together to not only develop a white deer preserve on part of the town’s 3030 acres of the former Seneca Army Depot’s land within the township, but also create a white deer brand to boost the local business economy through tourism.

Hayssen told Seneca White Deer, Inc. President Dennis Money: “We look forward to working with SWD to protect the white deer and improve the economic engine of Seneca County, therefore, we will be offering SWVarickD a significant portion of the over 3,000 acres within the Town of Varick following approval of the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which owns the former army depot.”

According to Money, SWD has long held the belief that a significant portion of the former depot’s 10,000 acres should be transformed into an ecotourism center attracting tourists from across the state, nation and globe. “Working with the Town of Varick to develop the 3,000-acre parcel serves as a new beginning for SWD and the white deer,” said Money.  “We are thrilled for the opportunity to be able to realize a dream that was born in the hearts of our organization over 18 years ago.  We thank Bob Hayssen and the Town of Varick for helping us see this vision through to a successful conclusion.  It will be a definite boon to the local economy and its scores of local businesses.”

The board voted in favor to partner with SWD on the depot parcel.  Hayssen said the details of the partnership will be worked out in the coming days. The SWD Board of Directors has also approved the partnership.

Meanwhile, bids are being taken by the IDA to sell the entire depot property. Bidding cut-off is February 29.

Special Thanks to the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce