Seneca White Deer’s Final Project

This elegant white doe with bright orange butterfly weed blossoms is a favorite photo, gracing many posters and brochures.
11/24/2021

Seneca White Deer, Inc. (SWD) has created a scholarship fund to preserve its legacy and to promote conservation education through Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute. SWD will partner with Seneca Lakes Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) to endow the Finger Lakes Conservation Scholarship.

This endowment fund will provide support for one or more students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) to conduct summer research and education in conservation in the Finger Lakes region, including both land and water venues. HWS will administer the scholarships through its Finger Lakes Institute. Each year, HWS will select students to receive scholarships to participate in summer research and education programs at the Institute.

Supporters may donate to the scholarship fund through HWS. The easiest way is to use the donation webpage (https://www2.hws.edu/). Click the GIVE Button at the top right and follow from there. To designate this scholarship, hit OTHER in the dropdown menu and that will give donors the space to designate Finger Lakes Conservation Scholarship.

According to SWD President Dennis Money, “After more than 20 years of working to protect the wildlife and environment of the Finger Lakes region, our board of directors felt that we could best use our resources to fund a successful, on-going program that can carry on our work, as our organization winds down its operations. SLPWA and HWS, as experienced and effective forces in the field, are invaluable partners.”

SWD operated White Deer Tours at the former Seneca Army Depot for more than two years, but found that the tour program was not successful financially, even though the tours were popular and highly regarded. The SWD Board of Directors decided to end the tour program and explore other ways to use the group’s remaining resources. The revenues from merchandise sales, tours and donations from supporters provided a financial base for funding the FLI scholarship endowment.

According to Money, “We’re proud to partner with the SLPWA in this project. Donations from their members and donors really helped make this scholarship possible.” As a non-profit organization, Pure Waters is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the abundant resources of the largest Finger Lake. Seneca Lake is a source of drinking water, recreation, and economic opportunity for the greater community and its visitors. Pure Waters programs and partnerships make it possible to monitor water quality, educate the public, and evaluate threats to ensure a healthy future for Seneca Lake and those who depend on it.
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The Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding regions. In collaboration with area conservationist partners and state and local government offices, the Institute fosters environmentally-sound development practices throughout the region, and disseminates accumulated knowledge to the public.

Seneca White Deer, Inc. is currently in the process of dissolving its non-profit corporation. Founded more than 20 years ago to protect and preserve the white deer on the former Seneca Army Depot, the organization has worked to raise awareness of the deer and other wildlife on the former Depot. When the Depot closed in 2000 and was taken over by the Seneca County Industrial Development agency, concerns grew regarding the future of the white deer. SWD’s tour programs in 2006, 2009 and 2012 drew attention to the issue and built interest preserving the unique natural resource.

An important result of SWD’s efforts occurred when the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) was seeking to sell the Depot property in 2016. The IDA required potential buyers to submit deer management plans as part of their bid packages. After sale of the property to a private owner, SWD operated a tour program for more than two years, hosting more than 15,000 visitors to the former Depot.

Money said, “Over the years our Board members, volunteers and staff have put in countless hours to restore the Depot facilities, build a Welcome Center and operate a tour program. Their hard work and perseverance added tremendous value to Seneca County and the Finger Lakes region. We owe a particular thank you to Karl Guenther (left) who donated our first tour bus and served as a volunteer driver for years.”

Money continued, “Funding this scholarship at HWS is a great way to end a terrific run for SWD. We’ve raised awareness of the deer and other wildlife on the former Depot. We’ve ensured their protection and the public’s access to them. Now we will assure that the group’s name and mission will live on through the efforts of the FLI and the Conservation Scholarship.”

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