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Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area

hunting trappingWatch hiking parking icon key

Washington County Grasslands WMA Locator Map

The primary purposes of Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA encompasses 478 acres of former agricultural lands. The land for this area was purchased from numerous private individuals in 2012, 2013, and 2018. DEC continues to purchase additional lands and provide the necessary infrastructure for public use.

NOTE: DEC closes the parcel east of Fitzpatrick Lane each year from December 1 to April 15 to protect wintering raptors. View a map of the closed area of the WMA (PDF) for details. The trail and viewing platform on the parcel remain open to visitors, but the remainder of the parcel is closed to visitation. You can help by following these tips while watching and photographing wildlife.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

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

Short-eared Owl in flight
Short-eared Owl © Gordon Ellmers

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

Hunting and Trapping

hunting
trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 5T

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

Wild turkeys, pheasants and deer attract hunters to the area in October and November. DEC releases ring-necked pheasants in the area prior to the hunting season. Please be sure to abide by all game laws (view hunting seasons and trapping seasons).

Wildlife

bird

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

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

Watchable Wildlife

watchable wildlife

General information on watchable wildlife includes tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations.

The National Audubon Society has identified a significant part of this area of Washington County farmlands as an Important Bird Area (leaves DEC website), specifically for grassland birds, whose numbers are in sharp decline in the country and in New York State. In addition, DEC has identified specific farmland areas (both active and abandoned) in Washington County as critically important to several species of grassland birds.

Wildlife to Watch
Where to Watch
  • Grasslands, open fields
  • Short hiking trail
Washingtong County Grasslands Brown Sign

Accessible Features

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

A 0.1-mile universally accessible path leads from the parking area on Blackhouse Road to a viewing platform overlooking the grassland and kiosk.

There is also an accessible parking area and viewing blind at the nearby Alfred Z. Solomon Grassland Bird Viewing Area (leaves DEC website), located on the east side of County Route 42 in the Town of Fort Edward.

Directions

The parking area to access the Washington County Grasslands is located on Black House Road in the town of Fort Edward at (43.245806°N, 73.559500°W) - Get Google Map Driving Directions (leaves DEC website).

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

Rules, Regulations and 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 Washington County Grasslands 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.

Boundaries and parking areas are clearly marked and any special regulations are conspicuously posted at access points.

Activity Rules & Regulations

Access and activities on this property may sometimes be restricted in order to protect at-risk species during critical phases of their life cycles. Please look for and respect "restricted area" signs.

DEC sign for Washington County Grasslands

The following activities are not permitted in Washington County Grasslands WMA:

  • Unless specifically stated, using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • snowmobiles
    • motorboats
  • Horseback riding
  • 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 Washington County Grasslands Wildlife Management Area

wildlife restoration logo

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Washington County Grasslands 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.

Bobolink resting on plant
Bobolink - © Gordon Ellmers

The primary objective is to provide nesting, feeding, and wintering habitat to a variety of bird species, including at-risk species. The WMA is also managed to research birds. An informational kiosk at the parking area provides visitors with information on the many species of rare birds found at Washington County Grasslands 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

birder enjoying the view across an open field
Birder enjoying the view.

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.