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Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area

Happy Valley WMA locator map

huntingtrappingfishingparkinghikingparkingicon key

The primary purposes of Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA totals 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.

In the late 1930s the Works Project Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps crews planted many of the original conifers in the existing plantations and also constructed three deep-water impoundment structures on the WMA (Mosher, Whitney, and Long Ponds). The Conservation Department acquired the area in 1961.

Happy Valley WMA Image
Slippery Corners Marsh

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

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

hunting
trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 6K

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

A good system of town roads and some maintenance roads provide access for big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting during good weather months. These activities are controlled by statewide regulations. White-tailed deer, waterfowl, and a variety of small game species offer ample hunting and trapping opportunities. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).

Fishing

fishing

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

Wildlife

parking

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

Wildlife associated with wetlands dominate this area. 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.

Directions

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 website.

Happy Valley Brown Sign

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

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Limited primitive camping (no water, sanitation, or garbage facilities) is allowed by permit only from September 15 through December 15 on a first come, first served basis in designated areas.

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 Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area 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 Happy Valley WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • 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).

wildlife restoration

How We Manage Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area

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

Mosher pond after water drawdown
Mosher Pond after water drawdown.

Management techniques include providing food, cover, and shelter requirements for various wildlife species. 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.

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.