The following is a guest post submitted by Joel Helfrich.
Submit your story today.
The fate of the largest herd of white white-tailed deer in the world is at stake. But you can do something to help.
Although these deer are not albino, they are extremely rare. Their very presence is a small miracle. The Seneca white deer have thrived for decades within a 10,000-acre fenced former military munitions supply base called the Seneca Army Depot, about an hour-long drive from Rochester, which provided munitions for all U.S. wars between World War II and the first Gulf War…
After trying for 15 years to entice businesses to locate at the Depot, the Seneca County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has decided to sell the property. Bids opened in December 2015 and close on February 29, 2016. As a result of the IDA’s actions, the fate of the white deer is to be determined.
The IDA’s announcement has created an opportunity for a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that I support called Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) , to purchase a portion (likely 2-3,000 acres) of the remaining 7,000-acre parcel and convert it to a world-class ecotourism facility—arguably the first such facility in New York State. If successful, the white deer herd would be saved.
Moreover, the Depot would be open for tours; bicycling, camping, and hiking; visits by veterans, schoolchildren, and citizen taxpayers; and eventually offer an opportunity for tourists to stay at the base. In fact, SWD tickets sold out during its tours in 2006, 2009, and 2012. Other considerations include wetland restoration, a solar energy field, a Cold War Museum, and all types of conservation biology work. There is also the possibility that a coalition of universities would use the space, as was seen with Applied Sciences NYC. Imagine a coalition of universities that would join together, locate together, and tackle sustainability concerns and climate change.
I know that the SWD’s plan will work because the organization’s unpaid director, Dennis Money, has a proven track record of making conservation projects work, first by reintroducing the peregrine falcon to Rochester, then by helping the River Otter, then running the Genesee Waterway Center , among many other activities.
Astoundingly, the plan by SWD is supported by groups as diverse as The Nature Conservancy (a conservative environmental organization), the editors of the Democrat and Chronicle, the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, tourism groups, winery owners, and other businesses, among many others.
People have traveled to the Depot in recent years from as far away as Alaska, California, Texas, and Kansas, just to see the white deer. It is believed that the Seneca Army Depot’s white deer will draw people from various international climes, once SWD assumes control of the property.
I ask that you share this blog post with anyone you know who might be able to help support the SWD’s fundraising efforts.
PLEASE NOTE: John and Josephine Ingle, owners of Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake, have promised a $200,000 challenge grant if SWD can match the money by January 31, 2016.
Seneca White Deer is working closely with The Nature Conservancy to become a serious bidder. This will be the only opportunity to save the white deer and the Depot’s history. If unsuccessful, the acreage will likely go to Amish and other farmers and the white deer will be lost forever.
For additional reading, see:
- Walter Gable and Carolyn Zogg, The Seneca Army Depot: Fighting Wars from the New York Homefront
- Seneca White Deer, Inc.
- , Democrat & Chronicle, October 15, 2015, http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2015/10/15/seneca-land-public-hearing/73977622/
- White Deer Photo display at Canandaigua National Bank Main Office in Canandaigua until the end of March
Tags: Joel Helfrich, petition, Seneca Army Depot, white deer
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 16th, 2016 at 8:07 pm and is filed under Opinion, Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester History, Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
This Tuesday, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors will accept public comments regarding an effort to have Seneca County take possession of the Depot. Although the deadline to speak has passed, people are encouraged to attend the meeting and take other actions: