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Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area

Watts Flats WMA locator map

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The primary purposes of Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This is a 1,401-acre property located approximately eight miles southwest of the city of Jamestown and three miles southeast of the village of Panama. The area consists of nearly 1,000 acres of shrub swamp, emergent marsh, and open water wetland, as well as approximately 250 acres of brush and grassland.

The area was purchased in 1979 by the DEC to ensure the permanent preservation of this diverse natural wetland.

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

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

Please stay on the designated trails to protect the diversity and richness of the plant communities found within this area.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 9J

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules, and regulations.

Hunting and trapping are allowed within Watts Flats WMA. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons).



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.


bird viewing

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

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 Vertebrate Checklist (PDF) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF) as wildlife viewing guides.

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. The accessible observation platform is located off Green Flats Road.


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.

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

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource

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
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs, or 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).

How We Manage Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area

Wildlife Restoration logo

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, and 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 are to maintain quality wetland habitat for waterfowl, as large numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds have been documented on the WMA during breeding or migration; to provide habitat for a variety of resident and migratory species; and 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.

View the Habitat Management Plan for Watts Flats Wildlife Management Area (PDF), approved in January 2020, which identifies the WMA-specific target species and habitat goals for the WMA.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions, and amenities in this area.

State Lands and Facilities

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.