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For Release: Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DEC Provides Special Opportunity to Visit Restricted Wetlands

14-Day Window to View Wildlife Management Areas in St. Lawrence, Jefferson Counties

As part of Governor Cuomo's efforts to expand recreational opportunities in New York state, the public will have a special opportunity to visit restricted portions of three Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties starting Saturday, Aug. 16 and continuing through Friday, Aug. 29, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

"These special areas offer a variety of natural habitats for people to experience and provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities," DEC Regional Director Judy Drabicki said. "Governor Cuomo is committed to increasing opportunities for the public to explore the state's vast natural resources. Opening these refuge wetland areas to the public for a limited period gives visitors a chance to connect with nature through hiking, canoeing and bird watching, with minimal impacts on wildlife."

During the 14-day period, Perch River WMA in Jefferson County and Upper and Lower Lakes and Wilson Hill WMAs in St. Lawrence County, including their wetland restricted areas, will be open to visitors. This is the 19th year DEC will open the WMA wetlands for expanded public access. For most of the year, these wetlands are off limits to the public to provide feeding and resting areas for migratory waterfowl.

The restricted wetland areas are also used by a number of New York State's endangered, threatened, and rare species including bald eagles, black terns, and northern harriers (marsh hawks), among others. By late August, the nesting and brooding season is mostly complete and the fall migration period has not yet begun, enabling DEC to allow public access.

Perch River WMA was established in the late 1940s because of its rich and diverse waterfowl populations. It encompasses 7,800 acres in the towns of Brownville, Orleans and Pamelia. It can be accessed from state Route 12, Allen Rd., Buckminster Road, Vaadi Road and Perch Lake Road.

At Perch River WMA, the Perch Lake proper (accessed by Perch Lake Rd.) will be open from noon until 9 p.m. each day. Fishing will be allowed, but no motorized boats.

Upper & Lower Lakes WMA is located about two miles west of the village of Canton along state Route 68 in St. Lawrence County. This WMA, the largest in the Region, is an 8,770-acre upland/wetland complex between the Grasse and Oswegatchie rivers.

Created in the 1950s during the construction of the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, Wilson Hill WMA is located in northern St. Lawrence County, approximately six miles west of the village of Massena off state Route 37. Situated along the St. Lawrence River, the 3,434-acre area consists of several large pools of open water marsh, bordered by a combination of dense cattails, brushy wetlands, forest and upland meadow.

Governor Cuomo included $6 million in NY Works funding in this year's budget to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state's fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

For additional information on wildlife management areas, bird lists and maps, contact DEC's Regional Wildlife Office at 315-785-2263 or visit the DEC web page.

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