The Horseshoe Solar Farm team has a clear mission: to bring renewable energy to Livingston and Monroe counties. A recent guest essay highlighted the importance of this area to the Seneca Nation when considering the locations for solar panels. The author’s insights on the historical context are valuable as we work to fine-tune the proposal for this project.
The process of planning Horseshoe includes public involvement and extensive study of the potential ways the project might impact the community and the environment. Our commitment to following this rigorous process includes affirming the protection of sites of cultural and historical significance.
Considering this, it is important to address several inaccuracies in the article. First, regarding the location of the project, Horseshoe is not proposed on the site of the Seneca village of Canawaugus which is along the Genesee River, near Avon. The Horseshoe solar project is proposed more than a mile away from the former village on the other side of the river. The name ‘Canawaugus’ was a reference to the nearby sulfur springs in present day Avon. In 1797, Canawaugus was circumscribed to a reservation further to the west. Today, a portion of the former reservation extends into the southern section of the area that Horseshoe has been studying.
In addition, contrary to what the author suggested, in preparing an archaeological and historic resources study, Horseshoe’s consultant conducted an extensive review of archival records at the area’s universities and museums and interviewed local historians. Since 2018, the Horseshoe team has been working with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the agency which protects all historic elements in the state and helps to coordinate the consultation process between permitting agencies and the Nations. While the consultation process considers information collected by Horseshoe’s consultants, it is conducted on a nation-to-nation basis between state or federal permitting agencies and Native American nations.
Archaeologists will conduct field research and shovel-testing throughout the potential project area. Any artifacts that are found will be handled and protected according to a pre-approved discovery plan. If cultural sites are discovered, the project design will be modified to ensure their protection.
Further details of these studies and site plans will be made public with the filing of the Horseshoe application under NYS Article 10. With a firmer understanding of potential facility locations, the Horseshoe team is committed to continuing engagement and consultation inclusive of the Seneca Nation.
Kate Millar is project developer of the Horseshoe Solar Farm.