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For Release: Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parking Tickets to Be Issued at Black Pond WMA

Overuse of Sand Dunes and Beach Clogs Roadway and Impairs Emergency Response

Law enforcement agencies in Jefferson County will address parking and other complaints at Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by issuing tickets to vehicles illegally parked along the roadway, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Judy Drabicki today announced. Black Pond WMA is located on Lake Ontario in the Town of Ellisburg, Jefferson County.

"This beautiful WMA has many attractive features, including an accessible boardwalk, fishing platform, sand dunes, a barrier beach and unique wildlife observation opportunities," Director Drabicki said. "Unfortunately, the large number of people visiting the area to use the beach are not parking in designated spots, causing a potential safety hazard along the entrance road."

The congestion from illegally parked cars has created dangerous situations. By constricting the narrow roadway, it makes it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond to any calls at the beach. For this reason, it is imperative that visitors park only in the designated parking areas. DEC Officers, Forest Rangers as well as Jefferson County Sheriff and State Police are tasked with responding to parking and other complaints in the WMA.

In 2001, the DEC completed a boardwalk and trail system that allows people with mobility impairments to visit Black Pond and cross over the dunes to the beach. This area is part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Bird Conservation Area, a complex of long barrier beaches, embayments, dunes, marshes and swamps with cold water streams. Lakeshore barrier beach and wetland complexes such as this are rare in New York State.

This WMA has significant breeding and over-wintering habitats, and serves as a critical migratory corridor for birds. WMAs are specifically purchased and managed by DEC for fish, wildlife and habitat protection, and for people to enjoy outdoor activities such as birdwatching, fishing, hunting, nature observation and hiking. Unfortunately, overuse of the beach area at times has negative impacts on the wildlife and natural features.

Since there are no plans for increasing parking capacity at Black Pond WMA, users who currently visit the area for the beach only can help alleviate the parking problems by visiting Southwick Beach or Westcott Beach State Parks instead, especially on busy weekends and holidays. Currently, three parking areas at Black Pond WMA provide adequate parking for people enjoying the wildlife-related activities for which the property is managed. DEC recommends visiting the neighboring state parks if the Black Pond parking areas are full.

There are specific regulations that provide for public access to the barrier beaches at Black Pond and Lakeview Wildlife Management Areas and protect the fragile dunes:

  • The beach area and associated dune access trails are only open between sunrise and 10 p.m.
  • Public access to the dune portions of the barrier beaches is completely prohibited.
  • Users on the beach and trails are prohibited from:
    • constructing, maintaining or using a fire;
    • using devices to create sound, excluding personal electronics that produce sound audible only to the primary user;
    • camping or maintaining a structure;
    • defacing, disturbing or damaging any structure, sign, or other DEC property;
    • removing, cutting or disturbing vegetation of any kind; and
    • removing any rocks, minerals, soil, or sand from the area.
  • In addition, both domestic hoofed animals and off-the-road vehicle travel are prohibited from the area.
  • Users are advised to respect the rights of others by not engaging in any activity that endangers public safety and by keeping household pets caged or leashed (6' or less) and under control at all times.
  • The possession of alcoholic beverages with the intent to consume while visiting the area is also prohibited.

The regulations are also posted in the parking lot and full text of these regulations (link leaves DEC's website) can be seen at Westlaw's website.

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