Two Major Events in the Works: White Deer Summit, Open Space Plan Hearings

Deer_headon_410
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.”

“White Buck” Photograph

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.”

SWD Supporters were active throughout Central NY this spring

Dee Calvasina (third from the left) and the Binghamton area team of Seneca White Deer supporters at Earth Fest in April.  Dee also wrote a terrific op ed piece for the Finger lakes Times in March.

Dee Calvasina (third from the left) and the Binghamton area team of Seneca White Deer supporters at Earth Fest in April. Dee also wrote a terrific op ed piece for the Finger lakes Times in March.

Earth Fest, sponsored by Earth Day Southern Tier, is one of the longest-running celebrations of Earth Day in the nation and a respected Southern Tier institution. Partnering with SUNY Broome Community College, were the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, the Discovery Center and the Roberson Museum and Science Center.

SWD Board member Aimee Bartelt and her friends staffed the SWD exhibit at this year’s Montezuma Audubon Center's Wildlife Festival in Savannah, NY.

SWD Board member Aimee Bartelt and her friends staffed the SWD exhibit at this year’s Montezuma Audubon Center’s Wildlife Festival in Savannah, NY.

This year’s theme was Farming for Wildlife, celebrating habitat enhancement and local farms. Highlights included presentations, demonstrations by Loomis Chainsaw Art and Upstate Worm Farms, nature hikes throughout the day, children’s activities, and a Garlic Mustard Pull Contest. The bald eagle shown here isn’t a SWD Board member, but he was one of the more interesting visitors to the exhibit.

SWD Board members Vince Lalli and Dennis Money worked with the staff at Hillside Childrens’ Center in Varick to plant trees on the Hillside Campus during a special habitat protection program sponsored by Seneca White Deer.  The students and staff joined our representatives to learn about the natural resources wildlife depends on and to take a hands-on approach to preserving those resources.

SWD Board members Vince Lalli and Dennis Money worked with the staff at Hillside Childrens’ Center in Varick to plant trees on the Hillside Campus during a special habitat protection program sponsored by Seneca White Deer. The students and staff joined our representatives to learn about the natural resources wildlife depends on and to take a hands-on approach to preserving those resources.

SWD Board members Vince Lalli and Dennis Money worked with the staff at Hillside Childrens’ Center in Varick to plant trees on the Hillside Campus during a special habitat protection program sponsored by Seneca White Deer. The students and staff joined our representatives to learn about the natural resources wildlife depends on and to take a hands-on approach to preserving those resources.

Information Session in Canandaigua

Wood Library

The Wood Library in Canandaigua, NY will host an information session on the history and the potential future of the Seneca Army Depot on April 15, 2014 at 6:30 PM.  The Depot is home to the world’s largest herd of white, white-tailed deer.  Dennis Money, President of Seneca White Deer, Inc., will discuss the history of the retired Depot and how today’s decisions regarding the Depot will affect the future of the unique white deer herd.

“The Depot’s history and wildlife are fascinating,” said Money, “but we’re facing decisions this year that could mean the loss the white deer and all that military history forever.  Environmental protection and commercial development don’t have to be in conflict.  We favor development in a way that will satisfy everyone. ”

Following his presentation, Mr. Money will answer questions and discuss how area residents can help the effort to protect the deer, other wildlife and 70 years of military history.  As time for the Army to complete restoration work at the Depot nears, critical decisions about how to manage the property and protect the wildlife will face our policy makers and elected officials.

Those attending the session will be able to purchase Seneca White Deer photobooks, T-shirts and other white deer memorabilia.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) is a non-profit, volunteer organization working to preserve the unique wildlife and military history of the former Seneca Army Depot through conservation, ecotourism and economic development. In recent years, has conducted tours of the Depot for more than 6,000 people, demonstrating the public’s interest in the facility.

The Wood Library is located at 134 North Main St. in Canandaigua, NY.

Seneca White Deer: A Call to Action!

Seneca White Deer, Inc. is asking our supporters to take action now. Our officials need to hear that we all want to save the white deer and the Depot where they live. Hearings on New York State’s draft Open Space Plan are scheduled soon, and we need your help. This is one of the first steps in a long process that will occur this year, so we need to start strong and keep up the pressure until we have a world-class ecotourism facility that will benefit the deer, the local economy and everyone involved.

The time is now for action!

  • Army will leave the Depot in January, 2015
  • IDA is not capable of maintaining the Depot and has identified the need to find an entity to do so before the Army Corps leaves
  • If the Army has no successor, the fence will not be maintained, the deer will not be managed and the opportunity will be lost
  • Significant commercial development or a private hunting organization could occur which would destroy wildlife habitat and impact the white deer and other wildlife and not allow public access.

Challenges SWD faces

  • Maintaining Depot fences and facilities
  • Protecting the white deer and other wildlife
  • Providing benefits for local residents, businesses and governments
  • Preserving 70 years of military history
  • Obtaining funding for the depot via the NYS Open Space Program

The solution – Ecotourism at the Depot. SWD’s business plan provides a blueprint for ecotourism at the Depot. Ecotourism could:

  • Protect the deer and other wildlife
  • Provide a world class attraction to enhance the region’s tourism industry
  • Create jobs and local business revenues
  • Generate funds to maintain the facility and support local communities
  • Turn an unproductive facility into a key economic engine for the area

Advantages of Ecotourism

  • An ecotourism facility could be built and operated without the major infrastructure improvements and environmental issues associated with industrial development
  • New York State has the agencies and the experience to make ecotourism a success. The State also has partnered with private businesses to run golf courses and ski areas so precedent has been made
  • White deer viewing would give Seneca County a signature identity, unique in the entire world
  • In addition to viewing the white deer, other activities could include birding, hiking, horseback riding, camping, environmental research
  • Ecotourism at the Depot has many facets and would encompass many different interest groups and all seasons
  • Military history could be incorporated into tours and exhibits
  • Tourism facilities will create jobs and generate revenue
  • Revenues from operation could support payments in-lieu-of-taxes for local communities
  • Substantial Depot acreage would still be available for industrial development

What to do
Contact the people below. Tell them to actively support acquiring the Seneca Army Depot through the New York Open Space program and funding via the Environmental Protection Fund. The Depot is listed as a priority area for potential funding under the Open Space program BUT that’s not enough. Tell them the Depot could be a world class tourism attraction, which would not only provide significant economic stimulus but it would also provide funding for habitat management for the abundant wildlife of the Depot. The Depot, its wildlife and military history, belong to the American public and with your help the dream can come true. Email, write, or call to support Seneca White Deer’s ecotourism plan.

NYS Senator Michael Nozzolio
119 Fall St
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
315-568-9816.
nozzolio@senate.state.ny.us

NYS Assemblyman Brian Kolb
607 West Washington St, Suite 2
Geneva, NY 14456
315-781-2030
kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us

NYS Assemblyman Philip A. Palmesano
105 East Steuben St,
Bath, NY 14810
607-776-9691.
palmesanop@assembly.state.ny.us

Robert Aronson, Executive Director
Seneca County Industrial Development Agency
1 DiPronio Drive
Waterloo, NY 13165
raronson@co.seneca.ny.us

Paul D’Amato, Regional Director
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
6274 East Avon-Lima Road
Avon, NY 14414-9516.
585-226-2466.
pjdamato@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Fred Bonn, Regional Director
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
PO Box 1055
Trumansburg, NY 14886-1055
fred.bonn@parks.ny.gov
(607) 387-7041

Rose Harvey, Commissioner
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Albany NY, 12238
(518) 474-0456

Joseph Martens, Commissioner
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1011
(518) 402-8545

Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
(518) 474-8392

2013 Annual Appeal Letter

Dear Friends of Seneca White Deer,

buck2The photo above represents the two main attributes of the Seneca Army Depot – the white deer and the igloos which housed various forms of weapons for many decades. Now that it is official that the Army is leaving in 2015, there is an increased urgency to protect these elements and keep alive the idea that the former depot should be available for all Americans to come and enjoy. The depot has both military and wildlife resources which, if properly managed and conserved, could be turned into a world class tourism attraction. Such an attraction would not only generate jobs and revenue but also continue to protect and manage the world’s largest herd of white, whitetail deer!

One way you can help is by participating in the hearings for the New York Open Space Plan. The purpose of the Open Space proceedings is to purchase unique land and water resources for New Yorkers to come and enjoy. Money for property acquisition is provided from the Environmental Protection Fund. The depot property is listed as a priority area for NYSDEC Region 8 to be considered for such funding. However, the depot will be going against other properties throughout New York State for the same funding so…your participation in the Open Space hearings will be crucial IF we are too be successful. With the Army leaving in 2015 and the next Open Space program not even scheduled for many years from now, this is our last chance to protect a significant part of the depot. Hearings will soon be conducted across the state and you can attend those hearings and participate or send in letters of support for the depot no matter where you live in New York. Please check with your local DEC office for dates and times for the hearings in your area. SWD will also post them on our website. This is the 11th hour for the depot so let’s continue to do our best to protect this potentially great resource.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD), as you know, has been working very hard for many years to preserve the resources of the depot. We will continue to keep you posted with any significant happenings. In 2013 SWD accomplished several exciting activities. First, SWD realized it needed to make more young people aware of the depot and its wildlife so SWD partnered with the Seneca Falls Rotary Club to provide books and book markers on wildlife to young children in the Seneca Falls school district. SWD also worked with the Hillside Children’s Agency to build blue bird boxes at their Varick campus and engage some of their students to become interested in conservation projects. These partnerships are continuing this fall and into 2014. SWD is excited to say that this program will also be expanding into other schools in Seneca County.

The development of a Master Plan map showing how the depot could be configured into a world class tourism and education center was our second accomplishment this year. This beautiful full color map shows the ‘potential’ of what the depot could become. For example, the map shows a wildlife education center, camp grounds, food plots, a Welcome Center to name just a few of the potential ideas for the depot project. The map can be found at our website, www.senecawhitedeer.org. Check it out – you can zoom in on the map and see details like the white deer, turkeys, geese etc.

Finally, SWD has recently released a new three minute video with great footage showing the depot property, igloos and wildlife. The mission of the video is to once again notify the public that time is running out and SWD needs your help in keeping the idea viable. The video can be seen both on our website and You Tube. Please check it out and tell your friends.  The more people who see this video and support us the better our chances for success for all of us.

Seneca White Deer did not have any fund raising events this year. We felt we needed to become more active in the public eye by spending money via the activities previously mentioned.  Please support our continued efforts with a donation to Seneca White Deer, Inc. All donations are tax exempt since SWD is a 501© (3) not for profit organization. Your donation will help fund the efforts of our volunteer, non-profit group to continue this important endeavor.  Checks should be made out to Seneca White Deer, Inc. and mailed to 4780 Deuel Road, Canandaigua, NY 14424.  Donations can also be made through PayPal from our website, www.senecawhitedeer.org. Any one donating $100 or more will receive a copy of our new and beautiful photo book!

Thank you for your interest and your continued support of Seneca White Deer.  The Depot was built and is still maintained with public money.  It belongs to all of us and we all should have access to the beauty lying “Beyond the Fence”.

Sincerely,

Dennis J. Money
President, Seneca White Deer, Inc.
Email: whitebuck47@yahoo.com
585-394-1287

SWD Newsletter Goes Digital

gio3c copyTo better communicate  with our supporters, Seneca White Deer is starting an electronic newsletter, which will be delivered directly to your email inbox.  We will continue to distribute our paper newsletter, but only to those who request it. In our next paper newsletter we’ll send a card to return if readers want to keep getting the paper newsletter.

We feel this new medium will create a stronger link to our supporters, benefit the environment and save money.  We will be able to provide information more quickly and efficiently, and you will have the convenience of online delivery.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. can save on printing and mailing costs, as well as avoiding wasting paper for newsletters that we can send electronically.  We see this as a real win/win solution to our communication needs

Many of you probably are already receiving the new electronic version, but if you aren’t and would like to have it sent directly to your email inbox, Click Here.

New White Deer Video

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 8.42.27 AM

Click image to view on YouTube.

A new video appeal produced by Seneca White Deer, Inc., highlights the urgency of taking action to protect the wildlife on the Seneca Army Depot and preserve its military history.  Click here to view.

When the Army Corps of Engineers completes restoration of the Depot lands in 2015, it will no longer maintain the fences and manage the deer herd, which has thrived under the Army’s care. This video explains the unique characteristics of the Depot and its wildlife, as well as the threat facing it after 2015.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. has entered the video in the United Way of Greater Rochester’s ROC the Day Contest.  The winning video (based partly on which one gets the most online votes) will receive a $750 prize.  Click here to vote ROC the Day Vote.

New Interactive Map Shows Tourism Potential of Seneca Army Depot

A new interactive map from Seneca White Deer provides a look into the interior of the Depot and allows viewers to zoom in on any area to see an amazing level of detail. We developed this new Tourism Master Plan map to show the potential tourism facilities that could be developed on the former Depot.

Possible tourism facilities are shown as an overlay on the map, highlighting the former Depot’s potential as a contributor to the local economy. One option to return the bulk of the vacant facility to productivity is to develop it as an ecotourism park that would draw tourists from around the world.

Tourism Master Plan. Click to view interactive map in full size.

Tourism Master Plan. Click to view interactive map in full size.

All 519 of the former Depot’s earth-covered igloos are faithfully represented on the map. Other structures throughout the 10,000-acre site are realistically recreated in their exact locations. Information from aerial photographs and other public records were used in drawing the map.

The map also includes both white and brown deer, turkeys, geese and other wildlife. Using the zoom buttons in the lower right corner of the map, viewers can see the triple fence that surrounds the high security area where nuclear weapons were once stored and even find concrete personnel shelters tucked between the igloos.

Seneca White Deer has proposed redeveloping a major portion of the former Depot as a tourism facility to protect the white deer and preserve the military history that remains on the site. The Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, which is responsible for redeveloping the now vacant former Depot, recently discussed the need to plan for managing the former Depot when the Army Corps of Engineers finishes its cleanup of the site in 2015.

This type of development would boost the region’s thriving tourism industry, as well as provide a means to manage the unique white deer herd and maintain the fences and habitat that are essential the survival of the deer. Revenue from the tourism operations would provide the resources needed to protect the white deer herd on the Depot and make it more available to the public through public facilities and tours.

Tourism facilities at the former Depot could include a welcome center with exhibits and meeting rooms, routes for bus and self-guided tours, wildlife observation blinds, horse-riding trails and facilities, as well as wildlife food plots and research facilities. Accommodations for visitors would range from a sustainable-technology hotel and conference center to a “bed and bunker” where visitors with a taste for adventure could spend a night in one of the former weapons storage igloos.

The map was developed by mapformation, LLC. The illustrator, Michael Karpovage, is a Waterloo native and author of the novel Crown of Thorns, which is set partially on the former Depot.