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Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area

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Watts Flats WMA 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



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

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

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

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. The more common species are beaver, mallards, mink, muskrat, raccoon, wood ducks, black ducks, Canada geese, deer, ruffed grouse, woodcock, herons, bitterns and a variety of song birds.

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.


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

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Activity Rules & Regulations:

Outdoor Safety Tips:

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How We Manage Watts Flats WMA

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.

The following highlights some of the principal management objectives and techniques for the Watts Flats:

  • 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

  • To 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.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

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.