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Tours could resume at former depot under new management

Martin says SWD thought they could operate profitable tourism effort at site

By Josh Durso

A representative for Earl Martin says that despite Seneca White Deer, Inc. announcing last week that they would cease tour operations at the former Seneca Army Depot – management of the site will continue uninterrupted.

“When Earl Martin purchased a portion of the former Seneca Army Depot, he committed to protecting and preserving the white, white-tailed deer and other wildlife and habitat in the former depot,” Keith Tidball said.

Tidball has served as a consultant for Earl Martin, who owns the property, and rented out acreage to Seneca White Deer, Inc.

They announced on Friday that due to financial hardships – tours would cease at the end of the month.

Tidball says the conservation efforts at the site will not change or be interrupted due to Seneca White Deer’s decision to cease tours.

He says Seneca White Deer and Dennis Money believed at the time that they had the capacity to run a profitable tourism operation that would provide tourists an opportunity to see the white deer from inside the former depot. “Thus, Earl Martin and his subsidiary Deer Haven entered into a partnership wherein Dennis Money/Seneca White Deer would rent a building constructed by Earl Martin/Deer Haven, as well as lease access to the acreage zoned for conservation, based on Dennis Money’s tourism business plan,” Tidball added.

Tidball says Martin, through his Deer Haven Park venture, enlisted the expertise of trained staff from Cornell University, as well as other collaborators, and developed an extensive habitat improvement, security, and population management plan for the area north of Route 135.

“These activities have always been wholly independent of the tourism operation that Dennis Money led,” Tidball added. Martin and Deer Haven Park thanked Money and Seneca White Deer, Inc. for their dedication to providing observation of the habitat and wildlife being preserved by his team.

Tidball says the investments made by Martin and Deer Haven will continue uninterrupted to provide protection, suitable-and-improving habitat, and appropriate population management. “Earl and his team are in regular contact with DEC to manage the herd, including testing for CWD,” he continued.

As for what’s next: Tidball says Martin and Deer Haven will ‘evaluate’ the closing tourism operation as executed by Money and determine best practices and lessons learned with the objective being to provide tours again in the future.

Martin said that the goal will be to have tours running again soon. “It won’t be the last chance to see them however, Seneca White Deer will no longer be providing that service. There will likely be tours again soon, managed by a different team. We hope that Dennis Money and Seneca White Deer will collaborate with us in making sure that interpretive materials, website transfer, and other administrative items are made available so that we can continue to provide the public the opportunity to interact with these beautiful white deer,” Martin said in a press release.

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