Sibleyville Nature Reserve is considered to be one of the most historically significant Native American sites in the Town of Mendon. This parcel of land was part of the Seneca Indian Tribe’s village of Totiakton, or “In-the-Great-Bend.” The Sibleyville Estates donated the 45-acre land to the Foundation in October 2000. The benefactors wished to have the property maintain its pristine beauty of geological features as well as preserve its open space and historical importance. Endowment to the Mendon Foundation accomplished these goals.
The lower part of the property borders Route 15A and Plains Road in Mendon. On the southern boundary there is wooded frontage and steep slopes leading to Honeoye Creek. On the western boundary of the property there is a prominent drumlin. At the highest point, one can see 30 miles to the south. It is considered to be one of the beautiful scenic vistas of the Town of Mendon. There are also old white oak, maple and sycamore trees on the land. An old oak tree, now fallen as of October 2020, had a base over 6 feet in diameter, which the Foundation spent over $7,000 to preserve for 17 years.
In February 2001, the Mendon Foundation held a community meeting to organize a Sibleyville Committee and to develop a stewardship plan for the 45 acres. John Huber, a wildlife biologist from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Peter Jemison, a leader of the Seneca Nation and Director of the Ganondagan State Historic Site presented views about the natural and historical aspects of the land.
Mr. Huber talked about the magnificent scenic vista atop the drumlin, as well as the number of different wildlife living there. He identified tracks of fox, coyote, deer, squirrels, mice, woodchucks, and possum. In the fallow area of the parcel he recommended that warm weather grasses be planted to create a friendly habitat for pheasants and smaller songbirds. For the steep slopes he recommended planting High bush Cranberry and Serviceberry to prevent erosion and provide berries for wildlife.
Mr. Jemison presented a series of slides detailing the Seneca presence in the area. He offered a description of Ganondagan trails and signs in both English and Seneca that could be adapted to the site.
At the close of the well-attended meeting volunteers were recruited to join the committee. Many private landowners in the Sibleyville Farm Estates neighborhood joined with the Mendon Foundation members to form the Sibleyville Committee.
With the assistance of the Mendon Foundation committee members, the private landowners whose properties are adjacent to the Honeoye Creek portion of the parcel met with Giorgio Bracaglia, President of Pheasants Forever. They developed a plan to plant the field with warm weather grasses to attract pheasants and songbirds. The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assisted with soil evaluation of the field, and with purchase and planting of the seed. All owners, including the Mendon Foundation, signed and agreed to a ten-year conservation easement agreement with NRCS and DEC. A specific mowing schedule to maintain and enhance the growth of the warm weather grasses was developed in accordance with the NRCS guidelines. In 2003, WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program) was also initiated in the large open field portion of the property at the end of Gravel Hill.
The Sibleyville Committee decided to allow a limited number of bow hunters to hunt during deer season. Five deer permits were issued. These were monitored to assess their use.
50 signs were created and posted around the perimeter of the property. Each sign states the name of the Reserve and the activities permitted. No motorized vehicles are permitted on the Reserve, except for farm equipment.
Subsequent work included planting shrubbery on the steep slopes; the planting of a tree barrier from Plains road to the creek; creation of walking/cross country ski trails and access site to the creek for fishing. The property today is open to the public for passive recreation on the hiking and walking trails.