If you asked Dennis Money what the herd of white-tailed deer would look like now at the former Seneca Army Depot a few years ago – he might have been uncertain about an answer.
That uncertainty is gone now.
Money, who is the president of Seneca White Deer, Inc., an organization dedicated to preserving and showcasing the world’s largest herd of all-white deer has been leading curious eyes on tours for the last several months.
The tours re-started last fall – after a lengthy hiatus due to uncertain ownership status. The site, which was previously owned by the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency – was sold to Earl Martin, a Seneca County businessman, who also owns Seneca Iron Works. When Martin took the property over – the white deer were a big part of his long-term vision.
At the time of the transaction, he tapped Money and Seneca White Deer to help coordinate those efforts. As the organization took over a large swath of the property – the herd was further protected by a new-and-improved fence.
Fast-forward several months after those efforts were completed – and the deer are thriving. Money led a small group on a tour on Thursday, showing off what had been accomplished, and even providing the tourists some opportunity to see the white deer in their newly-protected space.
“Once you get inside the depot you’re going to learn a lot about the history and even some of the white deer,” Money added prior to the group heading out. Before long, those deer began coming into view. “It’s the combination of wildlife and military history that really makes this site stand out,” he continued. “It’s a great compliment to the fine wineries and Finger Lakes region as a whole.”
Money said that he’s confident the tours will be a unique draw for ‘South Seneca’ through the future. “We feel strongly that this is going to be an economic stimulus, and will even improve the attractiveness of the Finger Lakes region overall,” he added. “We’ve never had the opportunity to do this year-round, and now we’re doing it,” Money continued, pointing out that it’s uncommon to have this type of attraction functioning during the winter months.
It’s an asset for the community.
“Once we get established here there’s no reason why this can’t become a world-class tourism attraction,” he continued. The hope is for the draw to be global, just as the wine and tourism industry.
While most are tired of April’s extended cool – the upside is that it provides an impressive behind the scenes look at the site as a whole. The lack of vegetation makes for easier spotting of the white deer, and clearer view of the large, underground igloos, which were used for storage when the site operated as the Seneca Army Depot.
Follow along in the video above, as FL1 takes you on a behind-the-scenes look of the Seneca Army Depot.