Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area
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- Location: Town of Chesterfield, Essex County along County Route 17
- Dates of Operation: Year-round
- Fee: None
- Contact: DEC Region 5 (Ray Brook) 518-897-1291
- Maps: Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area Map (PDF) (4.6MB) || Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area Map
- Interactive Maps: Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management (WMA) The primary purposes of the Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. The area encompasses 862 acres. Land purchases for this management area commenced in 1950 with the acquisition of 176 acres from the Watson Estate and were completed in 1970 with the additions of 136 acres from Loyola Villa and 370 acres from the Mattig Corporation. The habitat presently includes a remnant of the Pine Barrens ecosystem of pitch pine, scrub oak, sweet fern, and blueberry, as well as invading white pine, grey birch, hazelnut, aspen, cinquefoil and bracken fern.
Hunting & Trapping
Wickham Marsh WMA is located in Wildlife Management Unit 5G. Deer and waterfowl entice hunters to Wickham Marsh in October and November. Beaver and muskrat attract the interest of trappers. (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons)
Warm water fish, including largemouth bass, sunfish, bullhead, bowfin, northern pike and chain pickerel can be found in the marsh. A cartop boat launch located on Lake Street provides access to the WMA.
An observation platform sets 200 feet above the marsh on the top of a steep ridge providing a 180 degree view of the marsh. Hundreds of acres of marsh and forest including two rare ecological communities can be seen from the platform. A northern white cedar swamp is located at the base of the ridge and a rich shrub fen is located just between the swamp and the mix of open water and cattail marsh. About 7 acres of grassland can be seen on the opposite side of the marsh and the osprey pole and nesting platform is located where the marsh meets the grassland.
A series of foot trails have been constructed so visitors can access the management area. These footpaths are used for recreation, such as hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, and education. The trails help direct visitors to various points of interest located throughout the site, including scenic vistas and unique ecological communities, offering individuals an opportunity to learn more about nature and examine the relationship between habitat and wildlife.
A variety of wildlife can be seen in the area, including:
- ruffed grouse
- white-tailed deer
Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area features a wheelchair accessible trail and observation platform - see description above. A kiosk is located along the trail and one designated parking spot is reserved for people with disabilities. The parking area is located off Giddings Road (Back Rd). A 300 feet long accessible trail brings users from the parking area to the viewing platform. A Bird Conservation Area kiosk is located halfway between the parking area and the platform.
Full Listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations
Take Exit 35 of the Adirondack Northway (I-87). Turn east onto Bear Swamp Road (Route 442) - turn right if coming from the south or turn left if coming from the north. Take Bear Swamp Road approximately 3 miles to State Route 9. Turn right onto State Route 9 south.
To access the north and east sides of the WMA: Take State Route 9 south 2.8 miles to Giddings Road (AKA Back Rd).
- Take Giddings Road east 1 mile to a small pull-off/parking area and trail head on the left. - Get Google Map Driving Directions (External Link)
- Take Giddings Road east 1.5 mile to a large parking area on the left. This parking area includes a universally accessible trail and viewing platform. - Get Google Map Driving Directions (External Link)
- Take Giddings Road east 1.8 miles. Giddings Road turns sharply to the south and runs along the shore of Lake Champlain. Several pull-off parking areas, a small car-top boat launch, and a larger parking area and trail head are located along this half mile stretch of road between the marsh and Lake. Access to Lake Champlain is impeded by the rail road bed that runs parallel to the road. - Get Google Map Driving Directions (External Link)
To access the south side of the WMA and the interior hiking trails: Take State Route 9 south to State Route 373. Turn left onto State Route 373. Take State Route 373 east 1.3 miles. A large parking area with its entrance marked by a large DEC sign is on the left (north) side of the road. - Get Google Map Driving Directions (External Link)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Activity Rules and Regulations
- Hunting Regulations
- Trapping Regulations
- Fishing Regulations
- Public Use of Wildlife Management Areas Regulations
The following activities are not permitted in Wickham Marsh WMA:
- Unless specifically stated, using motorized vehicles, including:
- all-terrain vehicles
- Swimming or bathing
- Kindling fires
- Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property
- Overnight storage of boats
- Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation
- Construction of permanent blinds or other structures such as tree stands
- Storage of personal property
Outdoor Safety Tips
NOTE: Ticks are active whenever temperatures are above freezing but especially so in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases. More information on deer ticks and Lyme disease can be obtained from the NYS Department of Health. (Leaves DEC Website)
How We Manage
Prior to state ownership, the area was used primarily for agriculture and timber harvesting. Today, Wickham Marsh is managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a variety of recreational and scientific purposes, including: natural resources education, wildlife observation and photography, fishing, trapping, hunting, and canoeing. One of the primary objectives is to provide nesting and feeding habitat to a variety of waterfowl.
Management techniques such as the construction of a water level control structure at the outlet of the marsh, ditching and shoreline clearing have increased the amount of waterfowl nesting and feeding habit that was originally present at the site. A 6 acre grassland has been constructed adjacent to the marsh and is maintained as a permanent stand of dense clumping grasses to provide upland nesting habitat for waterfowl and other birds. In addition, wood duck nest boxes have been erected throughout the area. These artificial nest locations mimic the natural, but scarce, tree cavities utilized by this species of duck. As a result of these efforts, wood ducks, black ducks, mallards, mergansers and teal are readily observed on the management area.
In 2008, thanks to the assistance of High Peaks Audubon Society and New York State Electric and Gas, DEC placed an artificial osprey nest platform next to the cattail marsh. Osprey have used the platform every summer since the installation, successfully raising young each year. Osprey may be easily observed feeding, nesting and caring for their young from the foot trail off Lake Street and from the wheelchair accessible observation platform off Giddings Road.
Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area consists of 17 different ecological communities ranging from emergent marsh to northern hardwoods. This variety in habitat allows the area to support diverse fish and wildlife populations.
The DEC employs various management techniques within some of these different habitats to improve breeding and feeding conditions for numerous wildlife species. In accordance with the DEC Young Forest Initiative (#104218) management includes clearing sections of hardwood forest to create vital young forest habitat.
One of the ecological communities present at the management area are pitch pine-oak forests. The DEC thins the oak from these areas to keep the forest canopy open. As a result of this timber management, there is an increase in the production of acorns - a food utilized by a variety of wildlife species ranging from birds, such as turkeys, wood ducks and ruffed grouse to mammals, such as squirrels, deer and bear.
Tourism Information for Nearby Attractions, Amenities & Activities
Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.
Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
- Essex County Chamber of Commerce (Leaves DEC website)
- Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (Leaves DEC website)
DEC Lands and Facilities
- Peru Dock Boat Launch
- Port Douglas Boat Launch
- Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area
- Ausable Point Campground
- Lake Champlain Islands
Gas, food and supplies, dining, and lodging are available in the nearby communities Keeseville, Peru, and Plattsburgh.