Using fire to recreate history in Victor

The Senecas managed their hundreds of acres of grasslands in what today is Victor through the strategic use of fire — with some help from the 4,500 or so people who lived in the heart of the Seneca territory.

Today, Peter Jemison, manager of the Ganondagan State Historic Site, noted that a much smaller amount of land also is being managed by fire — with some help from the community today — to help promote the growth of native big and little bluestem and Indian grasses.

“The Senecas did a prescribed burn, just like we do,” said Jemison, during an informational meeting Thursday night about an upcoming prescribed burn. “This will give a glimpse of what the site looked like in the 1700s.”

The burn, which is a controlled fire used as a habitat management tool, will take place on about 40 acres of Ganondagan grassland property at the intersection of School and Boughton Hill roads. A portion of this area known as the Bluestem Unit was burned in 2017, the first year of the prescribed burn program.

Last year’s burn took place across Boughton Hill Road, at Murray Road.

This year’s burn is planned anywhere from Feb. 1 to June 11, although the two previous burns were done in the month of May.

Both have proved successful in improving wildlife habitat and removing non-native vegetative species and encouraging the growth of native grasses, according to Kira Broz, who is stewardship project coordinator-wildlife, Finger Lakes Environmental Field Team, for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

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