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Capital District Wildlife Management Area

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Capital District WMA Locator Map

The primary purposes of Capital District Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is a 3,982-acre parcel acquired from 1928 to 1941 for use as a game management area and game refuge. Prior to acquisition, the main human activities on the area had been subsistence farming and charcoal burning. During the 1930s and 1940s a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was operated at the WMA and many projects were completed, including the dam for the Black River Pond and the roads on the management area. The WMA was used as a stocking site during the beaver reintroduction program of the 1930s. In 1944 the refuge designation was dropped, and the entire area became a wildlife management area. Capital District WMA is situated at the southern end of a geologic feature known as the Rensselaer Plateau and is covered with semi-mature to mature stands of black cherry, sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, red oak, and red spruce. Black spruce, tamarack, and balsam fir occur in the characteristic bog-like wetlands on the WMA. The topography is quite flat, except on the eastern edge which drops into the Kinderhook Creek valley.

Pond at the Capital District Wildlife Management Area
Pond at Capital District 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 and Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 4L

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

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.

Capital District Brown Sign



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

Deer, turkeys, squirrels, and a host of songbirds frequent the area.

Wildlife on the area are typical of forests and forest edge habitats. Recently, moose have entered Rensselaer County from neighboring states and moose now reside on the WMA. Moose signs, such as young striped maple stripped of bark, tracks, and piles of scat is very common throughout the WMA, and moose are regularly seen. 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.

Individuals with disabilities can apply for a permit through the Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) to use an ATV on Dynamite Shack Road, which makes a turn into Schaeffer Road. Dynamite Shack/Schaeffer Road is a graded, gravel road approximately 2 miles in length that comes to a dead end. Dynamite Shack Road is located on the East side of the WMA off of Miller Road.

Permittees may also use Jiggs Highway, which is a graded, gravel road about 1.5 miles in length. It meets Miller Road at both its northern and southern ends.

Additionally, permittees may use Dingman, Game Refuge, and Pesticide Shack roads. Pesticide Shack Road is located near the entrance to Cherry Plains State Park, is 1 mile in length, and intersects with Dingman Road (heading North) and Game Refuge Road (heading South). Dingman Road travels North for approximately a half mile before it leaves the WMA. Game Refuge Road travels South for approximately 2 miles before it meets Black River Road. These roads are all graded, gravel roads.


The WMA is located in the Towns of Stephentown and Berlin in Rensselaer County. There are seven miles of public truck trails with several small parking areas and numerous pull offs throughout the road network. Additional public access to the interior of the WMA is provided by nine miles of multiple use trails. Cherry Plain State Park, nestled within the WMA, is managed by the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation.

All Google links leave DEC website.

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

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Forest at Capital District Wildlife Management Area with bark rub
Bark rub on tree in forested area of the WMA.

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 Capital District WMA 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 Capital District WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming
  • 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
  • The use of snowmobiles is prohibited except as specifically permitted by posted notice (see PDF map for details).

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 Capital District Wildlife Management Area

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Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Capital District WMA 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.

Habitat management is accomplished primarily through commercial timber harvests that are used to increase habitat diversity by creating various kinds of forest canopy openings. Recent timber harvests have been aimed at improving snowshoe hare habitat. Other planned timber harvests will be used to create a patchwork of different stages of early successional habitat that will benefit a variety of species. Other routine management actions included mowing to maintain grassy openings and apple tree maintenance. Thirteen miles of town roads and state truck trails provide access to the area and a network of foot trails continues to be developed. Capital District WMA is managed for non-intensive recreation consistent with its wildlife management function. Those seeking more intensive day use areas should visit the nearby Cherry Plain and Grafton Lakes State Parks.

View the Habitat Management Plan for Capital District Wildlife Management Area (PDF), approved in October 2017, 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.