Outdoor enthusiasts will have the opportunity to explore three Wildlife Management Areas this month, as part of the annual, temporary opening of typically restricted wildlife refuges in the north country.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation will open portions of WMAs in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from Saturday, Aug. 15, through Sunday, Aug. 30. The WMAs are marked as “refuges” or “wetland restricted areas” to foster environments for waterfowl breeding and raising young without human disturbances or interference.
During the 16-day period, the DEC plans to continue habitat and wildlife management projects, so visitors are asked to avoid machinery and pay attention to signage.
In St. Lawrence County, Upper and Lower Lakes WMA and Wilson Hill WMA will be open each day from sunrise to sunset. Located about two miles west of the village of Canton along Route 68, Upper and Lower Lakes is the largest WMA in the region, with 8,757 acres of upland and wetland systems between the Grasse and Oswegatchie rivers.
Wilson Hill, about six miles west of the village of Massena off Route 37, is comprised of 4,000 acres situated along the St. Lawrence River, with several pools of open water and marshy borders of dense cattails, wetlands, forest and upland meadows. Fishing is not permitted in Nichols Pool.
In Jefferson County, Perch River WMA will be open with two exceptions this year. The Mossentine parking lot and dike will be closed due to construction and Perch Lake will have limited hours, open between noon and sunset daily. Access to the lake will be by foot only. Fishing will be allowed, but motorized boats are not permitted.
Perch River WMA encompasses more than 8,000 acres in the towns of Brownville, Orleans and Pamelia, and can be accessed from Route 12, Allen Road, Buckminster Road, Vaadi Road, Cook Road and Perch Lake Road.
The DEC reminds New Yorkers to “play smart, play safe and play local,” following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Health guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities. Staying home when sick or exhibiting symptoms, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding close contact with others are all helpful and encouraged steps.
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 WMA webpage.