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Catharine Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Catharine Creek Marsh WMA locator map

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Catharine Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Catharine Creek Marsh WMA are wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. At the southern end of Seneca Lake, between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls, New York, an unusual natural area has evolved. Sedimentation and manipulation of the lake level has led to the formation of a 1,000 acre marsh complex. The area, named for the local Seneca Indian Queen, Catharine Montour, provides a haven for innumerable wildlife. Once navigable into what is now Montour Falls, the waters of Catharine Creek still feed a remnant section of the Chemung Barge Canal, which runs through the center of the marsh. This canal is critical to local industrial development and connected this portion of southern New York to the entire east coast. The Pennsylvania Railroad, which borders the canal through the marsh, served the area after the canal was closed in 1878. The area is rich with history from the time of the Senecas, when much of the marsh was used for truck crop farming, muskrat farming and eventually reed harvesting.

Featured Activities

Hunting & Trapping
Catharine Creek Marsh WMA is located in Wildlife Management Unit 8W. Hunting opportunity exists for such popular species as ducks, raccoon, rabbits, pheasant and deer, while trappers may pursue the numerous muskrats as well as other furbearers. (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons)

The Barge Canal is used extensively by fishermen and boaters and many people dock their boats at the various marinas along the canal. Any local fisherman will quickly vouch for the richness of the waters in and adjacent to the marsh. Catharine Creek is famous for its run of rainbow trout in the spring and hosts thousands of anglers annually.

Wildlife Viewing
A spur of the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail traverses the marsh as it takes the hiker past many of the scenic natural attractions found in the area. The abundance of plant life in the marsh provides ideal habitat for a diversity of wildlife. Members of the Schuyler County Bird Club have recorded 64 species of birds, and the number of fish species in Catharine Creek is listed at 29. Use both the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF 453 KB) and Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF 240 KB) as wildlife viewing guides.

Catharine Creek Marsh


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Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following activities are not permitted in Catharine Creek Marsh WMA:

  • Unless specifically stated, using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • Camping
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • 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
  • Littering
  • 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). Also, practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.

How We Manage

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Catharine Creek Marsh WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing/photography). Funding to maintain and manage this site is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or "Pittman-Robertson" Act, which is acquired through excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment.

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.