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Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area

Happy Valley WMA locator map


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Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Happy Valley WMA is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA totals some 8,898 acres and has generally flat terrain ranging in elevation mostly between 600 to 700 feet above mean sea level. The soils are generally stony fine field loam or sandy knolls. Due to the area's close proximity to Lake Ontario, snow depths average about 125 inches annually. Reforestation and former farming activity have changed the original forest in much of the area. Fields in all stages of succession exist along with northern hardwoods such as sugar maple, beech, yellow birch and softwoods such as hemlock, white pine and spruce.

Happy Valley WMA Image

Featured Activities

Hunting and Trapping
Happy Valley WMA is located in Wildlife Management Unit 6K. White-tailed deer, waterfowl and a variety of small game species offer ample hunting and trapping opportunities (View hunting seasons & trapping seasons).

Happy Valley WMA is open to fishing, please visit Dec's website for more information about fishing.

Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife associated with wetlands dominate this area as all species of waterfowl that migrate up and down the Atlantic coast occur here either as a resident species or a visitor during the spring and fall migrations. Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF 453 KB) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF 240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guide.

Happy Valley Brown Sign


Happy Valley WMA's northern boundary is transected by U.S. Route 104; its southern boundary is transected by Oswego County Route 26. These Routes are easily accessible off Exit 34 of Interstate 81 and hence east on Route 104 to Happy Valley. The 7½ minute topographic maps covering the area are Dugway and Williamstown.

All Google links leave DEC's website.

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Limited camping is allowed by permit only from September 15 through December 15 on a first come first served basis in designated areas.

Activity Rules & Regulations:

The following activities are not permitted in Happy Valley WMA:

  • 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's Website). Also, practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC's website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.

wildlife restoration

How We Manage

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area 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.

Current objectives for the area are to provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species and to permit wildlife related recreational uses compatible with wildlife. Management techniques to provide the food, cover and shelter requirements for various wildlife species are carried out with monies derived mainly from hunting license fees and federal taxes on sporting arms and ammunition. These techniques involve old field maintenance, mowing, prescribed burning, green strips, tree/shrub release, slash openings, and water level manipulations to name a few. Timber stand improvements and harvest and conifer plantation thinning are carried out to improve the forestry resource and the wildlife values. Happy Valley has been the field laboratory for research studies in the past and currently is the site for a long term grouse habitat improvement study.

A good system of town roads and some maintenance roads provide access for big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting and fishing activities during good weather months. These activities are controlled by statewide regulations. Hiking, birding and cross country skiing are favorite activities also. A limited number of permits are issued on a first come first served basis for primitive type camping ( no water, sanitation, or garbage facilities) and can be obtained from the address below.


In the middle 1800's the land that is now called the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area was cleared and intensively farmed. During the depression in the 1930's the Federal Resettlement Administration bought up farms that were no longer able to support farming activities. These acquisitions became the initial acreage for Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area, as the Federal government developed the area for upland game in a manner similar to that of the old state game refuges.

In the late 1930's the Works Project Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps crews carried out a great deal of the original conifer plantings of the existing plantations and also constructed three deep water impound dam structures on the area (Mosher, Whitney and Long Ponds). In 1946, this Resettlement Area was turned over to the Conservation Department via a 99 year lease program. In 1961, the Federal Government cancelled the lease giving the Conservation Department full responsibility for the area. An intensive program of woodland management was initiated in the 1940's with release and selective cutting operations in the hardwood areas. In the 1950's, emphasis on waterfowl marsh development brought about the construction of seven waterfowl marshes in the area. Several potholes were also built a few years later to provide additional nesting habitat for waterfowl.

Reforestation and former farming activity have changed the original forest in much of the area. Fields in all stages of succession exist along with northern hardwoods such as sugar maple, beech, yellow birch and softwoods such as hemlock, white pine and spruce.

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.

DEC Lands and Facilities