The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the annual opening to the public of otherwise restricted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from Tuesday, August 16th, to Wednesday, August 31st.
During the 16-day open house, Upper and Lower Lakes and Wilson Hill WMAs in St. Lawrence County, including the posted refuge or wetland restricted areas, will be open to visitors each day from sunrise to sunset. Perch River WMA in Jefferson County will also be open to visitors with one exception-Perch Lake will be open daily from noon to sunset.
This 16-day window is now fixed for subsequent years and will apply to future WMA open houses. Establishing these fixed dates will make planning trips to the areas easier for visitors interested in observing DEC’s efforts to manage and improve these important habitats. Portions of these WMAs are marked as refuge or wetland restricted areas and are closed to the public most of the year to allow waterfowl and other listed species to breed and raise young without human interference.
Perch River WMA encompasses nearly 8,000 acres in the towns of Brownville, Orleans, and Pamelia. Perch River WMA can be accessed from State Route 12, and Allen, Buckminster, Vaadi, and Perch Lake roads. The Perch Lake proper (accessed by Perch Lake Road) will be open from noon until sunset each day. Fishing will be allowed, but motorized boats are not permitted.
Upper and Lower Lakes WMA is located about two miles west of the village of Canton along State Route 68 in St. Lawrence County. This WMA, the largest in the region, is an 8,770-acre upland/wetland complex between the Grasse and Oswegatchie rivers.
Wilson Hill WMA in northern St. Lawrence County is approximately six miles west of the village of Massena off State Route 37. Situated along the St. Lawrence River, the 4,000-acre area consists of several large pools of open water marsh bordered by a combination of dense cattails, brushy wetlands, forest, and upland meadow. Fishing is not allowed in Nichols Pool.
DEC may be conducting habitat and wildlife management projects on the WMAs throughout the 16-day period. Visitors are advised to avoid any operating machinery and pay attention to temporary signage.
For additional information about the WMA annual openings, as well as bird lists and maps, contact the DEC’s Regional Wildlife Office at (315) 785-2263, or visit the Region 6 WMA page on the DEC website.
Photo of main open water marsh at Upper and Lower Lakes WMA provided by DEC.