“We look forward to leveraging the Onondaga Nation’s expertise and indigenous knowledge to help manage the area’s valuable wildlife and habitat. In line with the President’s America the Beautiful initiative, we have all have a role to play in this administration’s work to ensure our conservation efforts are led locally and support the health and well-being of communities.”
The land transfer includes the headwaters of Onondaga Creek, more than 45 acres of wetland and floodplains, and about 980 acres of forest and fields, the Interior Department says. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including creek brown trout, great blue heron, songbirds, waterfowl, hawks, bald eagles, frogs, bats, and white-tailed deer.
Onondaga Nation Chief Tadodaho Sidney Hill expressed his joy at the land return milestone.
“It is with great joy that the Onondaga Nation welcomes the return of the first substantial acreage from its ancestral homelands,” Hill said in the release. “The nation can now renew its stewardship obligations to restore these lands and waters and preserve them for generations to come.”
“The Nation hopes that this government-to-government cooperative effort will be another step in healing between themselves and all others living in this region, which has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time,” Hill continued.
The land was previously owned by Honeywell, which was ordered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to transfer title and full ownership of the property to the Onondaga Nation as part of a settlement reached about Honeywell’s contamination of the environment.
Honeywell, which operated several plants in Onondaga County, is currently working on several of those recovery programs, including grassland restoration, wetland habitat conservation and improvement of public services such as walking trails and a public boat ramp, the Department of the Interior says.