Wildlife Management Area
History and Features:
The Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in southeastern Wayne County and northwestern Cayuga County, near the towns of Savannah and Port Byron. It is located approximately mid-way between Rochester and Syracuse just north of the NYS Thruway. This WMA is part of the 50,000 acre Montezuma Wetlands Complex, which is known to be a globally significant, important bird staging and breeding area within the Atlantic Flyway.
In addition to the state-owned Northern Montezuma WMA (which includes the former Howland's Island WMA), the Complex includes the federally-owned Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and lands owned by other conservation groups and private land owners with an interest in wildlife.
The Complex presents one of the best opportunities in the Northeast to protect, restore, and manage an extensive wetland system for wildlife and public enjoyment. The entire Complex is located in what was historically called the Montezuma Swamp, one of the largest wetland systems in the Northeast. This vast area once supported over 40,000 acres of contiguous wetland habitat, extending northward from Cayuga Lake almost to Lake Ontario. Most of this swamp was drained in the early 1900s for commerce and transportation by the development of the Erie and New York State Barge Canals. Draining the area made it possible to clear and farm the rich organic soils generated over time under the marshlands. Despite the loss of 70% of these original wetlands, the area still functions as a major migratory stopover site for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds in the Atlantic Flyway. It also provides breeding habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, including many rare and endangered species.
DEC and the Partners
This landscape-level project has been ongoing since 1991, when the DEC dedicated their resources to the partnership. Approximately 7,500 acres of public land is managed by the DEC in the Complex. Other public lands in the Complex are managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (see the link to its website on the right) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (see the link to its website on the right). Different rules and regulations regarding public access to these lands apply. Contact the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at 3395 Routes 5&20 East, Seneca Falls, New York 13148, (315) 568-5987 for information about federally owned areas. For information about the conservation land owned by TNC, contact The Nature Conservancy (Central and Western NY Chapter) at 1048 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, (585) 546-8030.
In 2007, Audubon NY (see the link to its website on the right) joined the Complex partnership and now operates the Montezuma Audubon Center located 2 miles north of Savannah on State Route 89.
The Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex is another important partner in the Complex. This non-profit organization supports habitat restoration, wildlife conservation and education, and generally serves as an advocate for the combined mission of the partnership. Their quarterly newsletter, "Cattails", is a good way to stay in touch with all Partners.
On NMWMA, emergent marshes and impoundments, forested wetlands, old fields, meadows, farm fields and woodlands provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife and public use. Abundant resident wildlife and huge spring and fall migrations of shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl and songbirds offer excellent opportunities for all kinds of wildlife recreational activities. Public hunting, trapping and fishing are encouraged in accordance with State Fish and Wildlife Laws and Regulations. Hiking, biking and canoeing are encouraged. Prohibited activities include motorized vehicles beyond barrier gates, use of off-road vehicles, motorized boating, overnight mooring of boats, swimming, camping, removal or destruction of vegetation, and littering.
Accessible Features: The Montezuma Audubon Center is accessible; and a woodland wildlife trail and observation platform overlooks restored wetlands. Also, a combination waterfowl hunting, birding and photography blind is located near the Audubon Center on the east side of Rt 89 and south of Crusoe Creek.
Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.
For more information contact:
The Northern Montezuma Wetlands Project Office
1385 Morgan Road, Savannah, New York 13146
Phone: (315) 365-2134 Fax: (315) 365-3056
* A nature trail can be used as a hiking trail, a hiking trail differs from a nature trails in that a nature trail usually has printed information along the trails and often has a brochure.
** Restrooms are located in Audubon Center. The Center is open during peak times, including weekends.