Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area
Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area (formerly Toad Harbor Swamp) is a 3,966 acre tract adjacent to Three Mile Bay off Oneida Lake's north shore. It is situated in southern Oswego County approximately six miles east of the village of Central Square and two miles from NY Route 49 via Toad Harbor Road or Lower Road to Wheeler Road and West Road. The 7½ minute topographic maps covering the area are Cicero and Mallory.
Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area is generally low and flat with several ridges or islands extending across the interior. Elevations vary from 369 feet to 430 feet with most of the area not exceeding 30 feet above Oneida Lake. Past glacial activity and the water level of Oneida Lake result in much of the area being a lowland swamp.
Topography and Wildlife
The muck-peat and acid sand soils have a strong influence on the vegetation. The majority of the area is swamp hardwood with soft maple (silver, red) predominating. Upland portions contain mixed hardwoods such as: soft maple, white pine, white cedar, ashes, oaks and hickories. Abandoned farm lands on the swamp border have been encroached upon completely by spirea, high bush cranberry, dogwood, aspen, pin-cherry, birch and other pioneer species.
The primary wildlife species seen on the area are waterfowl, which breed in the area, and migrants, which utilize Oneida Lake and the Three Mile Bay for resting and feeding during the spring and fall. Other waterbirds, shore birds, white-tailed deer, varying hare, ruffed grouse, squirrel, numerous song birds, beaver, muskrat, fox and wild turkey may also be seen.
The management area is considered a wetland, but in the 1920's some of the area was cleared and muck farming was begun. These lands were farmed up until the 1930's when they were abandoned. These muck fields are now covered with water due to beaver activities.
Initial acreage for Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area was acquired in the 1950's from Pittman Robertson Funds with additional acreage acquired under the 1962 Recreational Bond Act. The purpose for the original acquisition was for the ultimate development of waterfowl habitat.
Current objectives for the management area are to provide habitat for the use of a variety of wildlife with the primary emphasis on waterfowl species. Related recreational use compatible with wildlife is also a primary objective. 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. Techniques involved include practices such as mowing, prescribed burning, construction of nesting structures, preservation and perpetuation of certain habitats and maintaining a diversity of habitat. Timber stand improvement and harvest are conducted to improve the forestry resource and the wildlife values.
A special agreement permits the New York State Department of Health to operate a field laboratory for the purpose of conducting its encephalitis investigations.
A system of town and county roads provides access to most of the perimeter of the area. Numerous opportunities exist for hunting big and small game, trapping and fishing in accordance with State Fish and Wildlife Laws and Regulations.
A fishing access site on Phillips Point provides fisherman access to Oneida Lake. The Phillips Point area also provides a spot for bird watchers to scan the lake. A limited opportunity exists for hiking and sightseeing, and a cooperative agreement with Oswego County provides for a limited day-use recreational area.
Since Three Mile Bay is a wildlife management area, activities not compatible with the area are prohibited. A few of the prohibited activities include camping, swimming, and off-road vehicular travel (i.e. cars, snowmobiles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles).
For More Information Contact:
NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife
1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045
607-753-3095 ext. 247
Rules for Use
Three Mile Bay Wildlife Management Area is open to the general public year round under the following conditions:
- Swimming, camping, boating, overnight mooring or storage of boats is not permitted on the Area.
- Off-road vehicular travel is prohibited and the use of all terrain vehicles, motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds, trail bikes, snowmobiles, four-wheel drive vehicles, and similar off-road vehicles is also prohibited throughout the area except on town and county roads.
- Hunting, trapping, fishing and other forms of wildlife oriented recreation are permitted in accordance with the State Fish and Wildlife Law and Regulations.