DEC Opens Wildlife Management Areas for 16-Day Window

State Lifts Restricted Access to Give Public a Peek During Breeding Season Slowdown at Important Refuges

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that several otherwise restricted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties will be opening to the public from Saturday, Aug. 15, through Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. Portions of these WMAs are normally marked as "refuge" or "wetlands restricted areas" to allow waterfowl and other listed species to breed and raise young without interference from people.

During the 16-day period, Upper and Lower Lakes and Wilson Hill WMAs in St. Lawrence County, including the posted Wetland Restricted and Refuge 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 two exceptions, the Mossentine parking lot and dike will be closed due to construction and Perch Lake proper will have limited hours. Visitors will be asked to keep a safe distance from all construction areas and obey posted signs. In addition, Perch Lake proper will be open starting at NOON until sunset daily. Access to lake will be by foot only.

Perch River WMA encompasses more than 8,000 acres in the towns of Brownville, Orleans, and Pamelia. Perch River WMA can be accessed from State Route 12, Allen Rd., Buckminster Road, Vaadi Road, Cook Road, and Perch Lake Road. The Perch Lake proper (accessed by Perch Lake Rd.) will be open from NOON until sunset. 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 8,757-acre upland/wetland complex between the Grasse and Oswegatchie rivers.

Wilson Hill WMA is in northern St. Lawrence County, 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 will be conducting habitat and wildlife management projects on the WMAs throughout the 16-day period. Please avoid operating machinery and pay attention to temporary signage. For additional information, bird lists, and maps, contact DEC's Regional Wildlife Office at 315-785-2263 or visit the DEC webpage.

While enjoying outdoor spaces, please continue to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL and follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)/New York State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines for the preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing;
  • Practice social distancing. Keep at least six (6) feet of distance between you and others even when outdoors;
  • Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing;
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, and high-fives;
  • Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available; and
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.

PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.


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