The Tonawanda Seneca Nation has requested our help in rescuing a state-significant Raptor Winter Concentration Area from being developed as part of the Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County, near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the Tonawanda and Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Areas.
Comments on the proposed development are due to Thomas Haley, Regional Permit Administrator, NYSDEC Region 8, by March 30, 2023: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please copy in Martha Morales at email@example.com, who will keep track of comments submitted.
The 1,263-acre STAMP site includes 665 acres of open fields deemed “occupied habitat” for Short-Eared Owl (listed as Endangered in New York State) and Northern Harrier (listed as Threatened). It is also immediately adjacent to the territory of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation, which opposes the industrial project.
The STAMP site developer has applied to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for a “Sitewide Incidental Take Permit,” which, if approved, would allow destruction of 665 acres of occupied habitat for these two species and a number of others, including Threatened Pied-billed Grebe and Sedge Wren, and Special Concern species Cerulean Warbler and Common Nighthawk. Bobolinks, another struggling species, nest in these fields. The Northern Long-Eared Bat is also known to use and occupy this area, and will be listed as a Federal Endangered Species effective March 31.
- State law requires a “net conservation benefit” to threatened and endangered species, but the permit would allow destruction of these 665 acres in exchange for creation of a 33-acre and a 25-acre “mitigation area.” These two noncontiguous parcels are too small to support either Short-eared Owl or Northern Harrier.
- This on-site mitigation will use two fields: a 25-acre parcel in the southeastern portion of the Site that is already being used for mitigation, and 33 acres of the parcel located just north of John White Wildlife Management Area, for a total of 58 acres of grassland habitat. The concept of mitigation by counting the same parcel repeatedly is not based on science.
The Tonawanda Seneca Nation is considered an Environmental Justice Community, defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as deserving of “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” The Nationopposes the STAMP permit, which would decimate species of cultural importance to the Nation and threaten the health of the Nation’s Big Woods, its waters, its environment, and future generations.
The Nation has demanded that NYSDEC apply its Environmental Justice policy to this permit application, but NYSDEC has refused.
- The taking of species considered culturally significant by Seneca and Haudenosaunee people will result in disproportionate and irreversible impacts to Seneca cultural practices. This permit application raises critical environmental justice issues and NYSDEC’s Environmental Justice policy should be followed.
- In addition, the Tonawanda Seneca Nation has repeatedly requested that a robust supplemental environmental impact study (EIS) be conducted to determine the full range of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts from the STAMP project on the Nation, its culture, its territory and future generations. This study should be completed prior to permitting.
NYSDEC should hold a public hearing so that stakeholders can understand and weigh in on this permit application. Please join us in demanding a public hearing, as well as an EIS to determine the potential impact this project will have on the bird and animal species that use this land as habitat—and on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation’s natural and cultural resources.
Send your comments on the proposed development to
Thomas Haley, Regional Permit Administrator, NYSDEC Region 8,
by March 30, 2023:
Copy in Martha Morales