The state wants the public to weigh in on the future of more than 8,700 acres of state forest and wildlife management area called the Canandaigua Highlands. The property includes the Italy Hill State Forest and High Tor Wildlife Management Area in the towns of Italy, Jerusalem, Naples, Middlesex, South Bristol and Naples in Yates and Ontario counties.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is looking to improve access to the property, manage vegetation such as native grasslands and woodlands, control exotic species, and preserve historical and archaeological resources.
The highlands is rich in human history dating back to its first inhabitants, the Onondowahgah — Seneca Nation. G. Peter Jemison, historic site manager for Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, provided the DEC with an early history. Seneca Nation traces its birthplace to this area off the east shore of Canandaigua Lake.
“The name we have for ourselves in Seneca literally translates ‘the people of a great hill,’” said Jemison, a Seneca of the Heron Clan.