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DEC acquires 525 acres in Western New York for wildlife management

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Mon, Oct 26th 2020 10:30 am

Parcel offers hunting, fishing, trapping & wildlife viewing along scenic Clear Lake in Erie County

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Sunday announced the recent acquisition of 525 acres in the town of North Collins, Erie County, to create the Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The land offers hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing and other recreational opportunities and becomes the largest state-owned WMA in Erie County.

"The new Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area will provide outstanding wildlife-based recreational opportunities for visitors while protecting important habitat for many local species,” DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder said. “DEC will continue to work with our public and private partners to conserve critical parcels like this that connect our communities to natural resources.” 

Transferred to DEC by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the Clear Lake WMA includes the Clear Lake Reservoir and surrounding scenic property. The 43-acre lake offers wildlife viewing opportunities and provides important habitat for turtles, salamanders and waterfowl such as Canada geese, wood ducks and mallards. The lake was constructed in the 1920s for use as a water reservoir for the former Gowanda Psychiatric Center and was later used by the Collins Correctional Facility. 

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “The Office of Mental Health is pleased to have helped the Department of Environmental Conservation transform an unused parcel of land into a magnificent wildlife area that will provide outdoor recreational opportunities for people and families in Western New York.” 

An ideal location for wildlife habitat, the parcel’s diverse landscape includes mature forest, wetlands, brushland and open fields that support a variety of species including ruffed grouse, wild turkey, woodcock, white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, red and gray fox, and migratory songbirds.  

Clear Lake WMA will be actively managed by DEC Region 9’s Bureau of Wildlife with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing the property’s wildlife habitat and providing active wildlife-dependent recreation. In addition, non-wildlife-dependent recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking and canoeing are also allowed as long as these activities do not impede or interfere with the primary wildlife management usage goals of the area. Prohibited activities at Clear Lake WMA include swimming, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking, target shooting, or the use of motorized boats, boat trailers, ATVs or snowmobiles. Check on-site signage for authorized activities when visiting. 

Clear Lake WMA can be accessed on the north side of Genesee Road in North Collins, west of Route 75. DEC recently installed two parking areas to improve public access to the site. The parking area located on the lake’s east side is designated for use by visitors hand-launching small boats, kayaks or canoes. Note that use of trailers is not allowed.

WMAs are lands owned by New York state under the control and management of DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife. These lands are acquired primarily for wildlife reproduction and survival, as well as providing for wildlife-based recreational opportunities. WMAs provide areas for the public to interact with a wide variety of wildlife species. There are 123 WMAs across the state, comprising approximately 235,000 acres. 

Since the early 1900s, the WMA program established permanent public access to lands in New York for the conservation and promotion of its fish and wildlife resources. Clear Lake WMA will be maintained by federal funding from the Pittman Robertson Act, now known as Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, which apportions revenues generated from the excise taxes on the sale of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment to state wildlife agencies for conservation efforts and hunter education programs.

Maps and additional information about Clear Lake WMA can be found on DEC’s website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/121437.html

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