Department of Environmental Conservation

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Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area

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Saratoga Sand Plains Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Saratoga Sand Plains WMA is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is a matrix of 700 acres of state lands on several separate parcels. The majority of the acreage is in two contiguous parcels - Camp Saratoga and the Old Gick Farm - that lie east of the Northway, west of Route 50 and south of Ballard Road. There are two additional parcels located off nearby Colebrook Road. 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)

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping
Saratoga Sand Plains WMA is located in Wildlife Management Unit 5T. This WMA is open to the public throughout the year. Hunting, fishing and trapping are allowed in season in accordance with the Environmental Conservation Law and regulations on the state lands that make up the Wildlife Management Area and nearby lands owned by Saratoga County.

Hunting is NOT permitted on Nature Conservancy lands or Town of Wilton lands. Note also that weapons and firearms are NOT permitted on Town of Wilton lands.(View hunting seasons and trapping seasons)

Fishing
Saratoga Sand Plains WMA is open to fishing; please visit DEC's website for more information about fishing.

Karner blue butterfly

Wildlife Viewing
Opportunities abound 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.

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 - a natural community consisting of grass and wildflower meadows with scattered oak and pitch pine trees.

In addition to the Karner blue butterfly other species of interest include the state-threatened species 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.

Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF) (85KB) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) (240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guides.

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 maintain four parking areas associated with the Saratoga Sand Plains WMA/Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.

All Google links leave DEC's 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. - Get Google Map Driving Directions
  • Take Ballard Road east 0.6 mile to parking area on the right. - 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. - 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. - Get Google Map Driving Directions

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

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
  • 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
  • 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, 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/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 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 that will to ensure the protection of the unique habitat and wildlife, while providing a variety of recreational opportunities in a manner that ensures public safety. 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; by fax at 518-623-3603.

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.