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Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area

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Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Watts Flats WMA is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This is a 1,324-acre property located approximately eight miles southwest of the city of Jamestown and three miles southeast of the village of Panama. The area is primarily made up of wetland habitat.

Large wetlands in Watts Flats WMA
Large wetlands in Watts Flats WMA

Featured Activities

Watts Flatt WMA is open to fishing; please visit DEC's website for more information about fishing. Game fish common to the East Branch of Little Brokenstraw Creek, which flows through the area, include northern pike, bullhead and sunfish. Bullfrogs are also common and provide a unique hunting opportunity.

Wildlife Viewing
An accessible observation platform is located off Green Flats Road. Users of the area are likely to encounter a variety of wildlife species owing to the area's diversified habitats. Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF) (85 KB) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) (240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guide.


Accessible Features

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

An accessible parking lot and hunting blind/observation platform are provided for people of all abilities.


Watts Flats Brown Sign

From Interstate 86, take Exit 8 head south on Route 394. After 5.4 miles, turn right on Route 474 then turn left on County Route 35 in 3.4 miles. The WMA will be on your right in about 3 miles.

All Google links leaves DEC website.

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following activities are not permitted in Watts Flats WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming (no lifeguard on premises) or bathing
  • Camping
  • Kindling fires
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs 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.

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How We Manage

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Watts Flats 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.

Some of the principal management objectives and techniques for this WMA is to maintain quality wetland habitat for waterfowl as large numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds have been documented on the area during breeding or migration; to provide habitat for a variety of resident and migratory species; and o permit compatible wildlife related recreational use. A shallow water impoundment was created to attract waterfowl. An annual system of grassland mowing is done to keep open fields from reverting to brush and trees. These activities are carried out with monies derived mainly from hunting license fees and federal taxes on sporting arms and ammunition.


The area was purchased in 1979 by the DEC. The area consists of nearly 1,000 acres of shrub swamp, emergent marsh and wetland open water and approximately 250 acres of brush and grassland. The area was acquired to ensure the permanent preservation of this diverse natural wetland.

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.

Nearby State Lands

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.