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Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area

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Saratoga Sand Plains WMA Locator Map

The primary purposes of Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is a matrix of 1,000 acres of state lands on several separate parcels. The majority of the acreage is in two contiguous parcels - Camp Saratoga (6.0 miles of trail) and the Old Gick Farm (1.9 miles of trail) - that lie east of the Northway, west of Route 50, and south of Ballard Road. There is a wildlife viewing platform on the Old Gick Trail 0.5 miles from the trailhead. There are two additional parcels located off nearby Colebrook Road.

A number of habitats and natural communities are found in the Saratoga Sand Plains, including deep water wetlands, rare pine barren vernal ponds, ephemeral wetlands in open areas, and oak-pine savannah - which consists of grass and wildflower meadows with scattered oak and pitch pine trees.

Saratoga Sand Plains is associated with the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park Study Area and is located within a state-designated Priority Conservation Area and the state and federally-designated Karner blue butterfly recovery areas. DEC works closely with its partners - Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, The Nature Conservancy, Town of Wilton, Town of Northumberland and Saratoga County - to manage these lands. Visit the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park web site at www.wiltonpreserve.org (leaves DEC website).

Male Karner blue butterfly
Karner blue butterfly male

Featured Activities

Hiking

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General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

Please stay on the designated trails to protect the diversity and richness of the plant communities found within this area.

Hunting and Trapping

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Wildlife Management Unit: 5T

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules, and regulations.

Note: Hunting is NOT permitted on Nature Conservancy lands or Town of Wilton lands. Also, weapons and firearms are NOT permitted on Town of Wilton lands. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).

Fishing

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General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules, and regulations.

Wildlife

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General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Opportunities abound here for people to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the biology and ecology of plant and animal species; the functioning of natural communities and ecosystems; and human interaction with, and use of, nature. DEC supports and promotes environmental educational opportunities for school groups, youth groups, and adults.

In addition to the Karner blue butterfly, other species of interest include the state-threatened frosted elfin butterfly and Blanding's turtle; the state-designated species of special concern eastern spadefoot toad, spotted turtle, and eastern hognose snake; and the prairie warblers - a designated species of greatest conservation need. Other wildlife species found here include deer, grouse, woodcock, grouse, and songbirds.

Directions

Sign for the Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area

Take Exit 16 of the Adirondack Northway (I-87). Turn east on Ballard Road - turn right if coming from the south or turn left if coming from the north. DEC maintains four parking areas associated with the Saratoga Sand Plains WMA/Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.

All Google links leave DEC website.

  • Take Ballard Road east to Edie Road, just past the northbound exit ramps. Turn right onto Edie Road. Take Edie Road south 1.1 miles to Scout Road. Turn left onto Scout Road. Take Scout Road east 0.7 miles to a parking area on the left (43.163589°N, 73.703008°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions
  • Take Ballard Road east 0.6 mile to parking area on the right (43.168186°N, 73.710546°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions
  • Take Ballard Road east 2.1 miles to State Route 50 (Ballards Corner). Turn right onto State Route 50. Take State Route 50 south 0.75 mile. The parking area is on the right (43.144991°N, 73.693006°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions
  • Take Ballard Road east 2.3 miles to Ruggles Road. Turn right onto Ruggles Road. Take Ruggles Road south 1.3 miles and the parking area is on the right (43.133478°N, 73.681962°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Unit must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following activities are not permitted in Saratoga Sand Plains 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).

How We Manage Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Saratoga Sand Plains WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, and 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.

DEC's goal for managing the Saratoga Sand Plains is to ensure the protection of the unique habitat and wildlife, while providing a variety of recreational opportunities in a manner that ensures public safety. DEC and its partners seek to restore and manage this unique sand plains ecosystem to recover the federally and state endangered Karner blue butterfly. The sandy soils found in this area are essential to blue lupine - the only plant that the larvae of the butterfly feed on. DEC and its partners have worked to restore habitat for the Karner blue by creating blue lupine meadows. Saratoga Sand Plains will be managed to provide environmental education and a variety of recreation opportunities.

DEC has begun developing a management plan for the Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area. The management planning process includes an analysis of the natural features of an area, the ability of the land to accommodate public use, and review of current policy and regulation.

The management plan is being developed by an interdisciplinary team of DEC staff, in consultation with the other partners of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park and with input from the public. The planning process will culminate in a series of management actions to be implemented over a five-year period. Possible impacts from the management plan may include modifications to current recreational practices and minor noise, erosion, and visual impacts from tree cutting for habitat improvement.

Public involvement in the development of the management plan is essential to constructing a sound, viable plan, and DEC looks forward to the valuable input from all concerned parties. The public may review documents related to the Saratoga Sand Plains WMA and the management planning process at the DEC Warrensburg Office at 232 Golf Course Road or the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park Office at 80 Scout Road in Wilton.

Any interested individual or organization wanting to be included on a mailing list for information about the development of the management plan or wishing to submit comments is encouraged to contact Wildlife Biologist Melissa Neely by mail at NYSDEC, PO Box 220, Warrensburg, New York 12885; by phone at 518-623-1240; or by fax at 518-623-3603.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions, and amenities in this area.

State Lands and Facilities

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.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions, and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories, or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.