Wednesday, May 22, 2024

DEC Adds Nearly 8,000 Acres to State’s Wildlife Management Areas

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Acquisitions Secured from 2014-2023 with Federal Grant Funding, Protect Important Habitats for Wildlife and Wildlife-Related Recreation

On May 21, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar announced the DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife recently implemented two long-term federal grants that permanently protected nearly 8,000 acres statewide. The wildlife habitat acquired under these grants was added to the New York State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system and supports a wide range of hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, birding, and photography, among other outdoor recreational opportunities.

“Working closely with our public and private partners who helped acquire these parcels, thousands of acres are now permanently conserved and will be managed to benefit New York’s diverse wildlife,”Interim Commissioner Mahar said. “Wildlife Management Areas provide the public with a wide range of opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent recreation and DEC thanks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for helping to support New York State’s successful management efforts.”

“We were glad to partner with the DEC to conserve this significant land through funding from grant programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Conservation Investment,” Assistant Regional Director of the Northeast Region’s Office of Conservation Investment Colleen Sculley said. “Through these grant programs, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies working with partners are able to leverage Federal grant funds to conserve wildlife and wild places so everyone can enjoy them.”

From 2014 to 2023, $14.5 million from the federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program helped acquire nearly 7,000 acres to expand New York’s WMA system. These acquisitions significantly increased the acreage of 15 existing WMAs and created three new WMAs.

Additionally, from 2016 to 2023, approximately $1 million from the federal State Wildlife Grants Program helped complete seven land acquisition projects, adding more than 1,000 acres to the WMA system. These acquisitions focused on permanently protecting habitat for a variety of state-designated Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

These federal grants were matched by $6.5 million from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The 2024-25 enacted State Budget maintains EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history.

Like all open space conservation actions undertaken by DEC, WMA acquisitions support and implement the goals identified in the New York State Open Space Plan and the state’s 30×30 Initiative to conserve 30 percent of New York’s lands and water by 2030.

WMAs created using this federal grant funding include Doodletown WMA in Columbia County, Charles Flood WMA at Empire Brickyard in Columbia County, and Poverty Hill WMA in Cattaraugus County. In total, the WMA system now encompasses and protects approximately 250,000 acres statewide, including more than 130,000 acres of forests, 13,000 acres of shrublands, 11,000 acres of grasslands, and more than 70,000 acres of wetlands.

The federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (now referred to as the Office of Conservation Investment) is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful conservation programs since its inception in 1937 with the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. For more than 85 years, it has served as a model of conservation partnership among industry, states and territories, and the federal government, protecting and restoring wildlife and habitats for current and future generations. Funds from federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment go toward projects, including the permanent protection of habitat through land acquisition, to restore, conserve, manage wild birds and mammals.

The federal State Wildlife Grants program was established in 2000 and provides funding to states, territories, commonwealths, and Washington D.C. to address wildlife conservation needs such as research, surveys, and species and habitat management. Projects focus on wildlife species of greatest conservation need identified in State Wildlife Action Plans, including species that are not hunted or fished, and funding for the program comes from an annual Congressional appropriation.

More information on New York State’s Wildlife Management Area system, is available on DEC’s website.

Federally Funded Additions to the WMA System 2014 – 2023

Wildlife Management AreaCountyDEC RegionAcres
Tivoli BaysDutchess356.5
Charles FloodColumbia4590
Vosburgh SwampGreene4167
Capital DistrictRensselaer42237
Franklinton VlaieSchoharie423.3
Saratoga Sand PlainsSaratoga5183.8
Washington County GrasslandsWashington5179
Point PeninsulaJefferson648.5
Wilson HillSt. Lawrence6458.8
Connecticut HillSchuyler/Tompkins7100.8
Big FlatsChemung8104.13
Braddock BayMonroe867.5
Stid HillOntario8193.85
Honeoye InletOntario/Livingston8708.7
High TorOntario/Yates8299.3
Catharine CreekSchuyler844.6
Junius Ponds Unique Area (PDF)Seneca896.22
Cold BrookSteuben826.5
Lake Shore MarshesWayne835.4
Poverty HillCattaraugus9990
Clay PondChautauqua934.2

Attachment: Map of Federally Funded Additions to the WMA System from 2014-2023

Photo at top: NYS DEC website photo.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

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