Two major events that could have a significant impact on the future of the white deer on the Seneca Army Depot are expected this year, but dates have not been announced for either. Both a White Deer Summit, requested by State Senator Mike Nozzolio, and Open Space Plan hearings, conducted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, could result in measures that would assure the future of the world’s largest herd of white, white-tail deer. Action to protect the deer is essential before the Army leaves the Depot, which is now expected by 2016.
White Deer Summit
In light of the Army’s announcement that it will complete reclamation work at the Depot in 2015 and leave the site by 2016, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors asked Senator Nozzolio to hold a “White Deer Summit” that would explore the options for protecting the deer after the Army leaves. Senator Nozzolio has arranged for the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva to coordinate the event.
In a letter inviting Seneca White Deer, Inc. to participate in the summit, Nozzolio and Assemblymen Brian Kolb and Philip Palmesano said, “Your input, ideas and suggestions are needed to insure that Seneca County does everything possible to preserve and protect this most important natural resource.”
In his announcement of the Summit, Senator Nozzolio said, “As one who has fought hard over the last decade to ensure that the appropriate level of redevelopment takes place at the Seneca Army Depot, I believe that there needs to be a strong focus on protecting and preserving the white deer herd as well as other unique wildlife at the depot.”
Seneca White Deer, Inc. President Dennis Money said, “I think we all recognize the importance of this herd of white deer and its potential value to the region. Our challenge now is to bring together the parties that can make the deer the centerpiece of another world class tourist attraction here in the Finger Lakes.”
Money added, “We are encouraging all our supporters to turn out for this summit, to show how important the white deer are to the people of this region.”
Open Space Plan Hearings
A second event that could critically affect the future of the white deer herd is the NYS Open Space Plan hearings. This Plan identifies priority areas for environmental protection and sets the stage for funding that protection through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
New York’s Open Space Conservation Plan serves as the blueprint for the State’s land conservation efforts, which during the past several years has conserved over a million acres of land. The Open Space Plan is required by law to be revised every three years. The last revision in 2009 identified the former Depot as a “regional priority conservation project”.
According to SWD President, Dennis Money, “The 2013 revision of the Plan has been drafted and we expect there will be hearings sometime this year to review that draft. It’s important that we make the DEC’s Regional Advisory Committee aware of how important it will be to protect the lands of the former Depot and its wildlife. When hearings are scheduled, SWD will spread the word to make our concerns known.”