The Environmental Field Team will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Seneca Art and Culture Center, 7000 County Road 41, Victor, to discuss a prescribed burn that will take place at Ganondagan State Historic Site this year.
Attendees will learn the historical and ecological reasoning behind the management practice and the logistics of carrying out a prescribed burn.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Environmental Management Bureau have approved the necessary plans. Special considerations have been made to ensure public safety from hazards such as smoke.
Ganondagan installed a two-unit grassland area — the Bluestem and Hickory units — at the corners of School and Boughton roads and Murray and Boughton roads. The grasslands replicate what the site looked like when the Seneca people lived at Ganondagan via journal entries from site visitors in the late 1600s. The units total almost 70 acres in planted area, and have since spread to encompass nearly 90 acres.
The area was planted with seed within Ontario County’s ecotype, meaning that the seeds specific adaptations are to the area of Ganondagan and are more likely to be the exact plant strains present when the Seneca lived on the site. Preserving and restoring these natural habitats is an important part of understanding the culture and history of the Seneca people.
Ganondagan is planning for a prescribed burn between May 1 and June 9 in the Bluestem Unit. Prescribed burns are a common strategy for grassland maintenance and restoration and were once a practice utilized by the Seneca people. The objectives are to enhance the interpretive value of the site by restoring the biodiversity of plant and wildlife species to what was present at the site during the Seneca’s historic period of occupation and to restore grassland communities within site boundaries and spatial arrangements of grassland and oak savanna communities.
A maximum 20 acres will be managed with annual burns, less if weather conditions are not ideal for completing the burn within a single day. Prescribed burn plans have been completed by experienced specialists in wildland burns.
The prescribed burn will start and end within a single day so that disruptions from traffic being detoured are as little as possible.
To be informed of future annual meetings about the prescribed burns, or to receive a phone call on the day of the burn, send an email to alexis.vanwinkle@parks.ny.gov or send a letter to Alexis VanWinkle, Ganondagan State Historic Site, PO Box 239, Victor, NY, 14564. Title all emails as “Public meeting.”
For information, email fred.bonn@parks.ny.gov.