Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Thursday, September 28, 2017

DEC Announces Completion of Wildlife Viewing Tower at Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Improvement Supports Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY Initiative to Connect New Yorkers with Nature

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the opening of a wildlife viewing tower in the Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Oneida County. The new tower will provide the public with a bird's eye view of the wildlife abundant at the WMA and encourage residents to explore the outdoors. This improvement is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Adventure NY Initiative to connect more New Yorkers with nature.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Birding is a sport that can be enjoyed by New Yorkers of any age and ability, no matter where they live. The viewing tower at Utica's Wildlife Marsh is one more asset for families and outdoor enthusiasts to use to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature."

Plans for the tower were unveiled at an event earlier this year in conjunction with the launch of I BIRD NY, a statewide effort to increase access to New York's vast natural resources and promote low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and connect with nature. The total cost of the tower was $25,000.

DEC recently completed the rehabilitation and enhancement of 75 percent of the one-mile trail, including the removal of several old structures, created a secondary overlook/observation area, formalized the new kiosk access and added interpretive signage at Utica Marsh WMA. Since 2015, approximately $194,000 in access and recreational improvements have been made to the Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area.

The original concept for Utica Marsh was to create wild space within a short distance of tens of thousands of people in the Utica/Rome region. It is a unique urban wetland with significant wildlife resources right within the city limits and a resource seen by every driver using the Route 8/12 corridor. The mixture of cattail wetlands, wet meadows, open water pools, and flooded willows creates a diverse marsh habitat that harbors a tremendous variety of plants and animals, especially birds.

Visitors to the Utica Marsh can use DEC's WMA Mammal Checklist and WMA Bird checklist as viewing guides. Both checklists can be found on DEC's Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area website. At the marsh, anglers can access both the Mohawk River and the Barge Canal. Utica Marsh is also open to trapping.

Utica Marsh is situated on the Erie Canalway Trail on the border of the city of Utica and the town of Marcy, and will be part of Governor Cuomo's recently announced Empire State Trail, a 750-mile recreation trail that, when complete, will connect Albany to Buffalo and New York City to Canada. Visitors can access the scenic Canalway Trail from the parking area located off North Genesee Street. Call the Herkimer Office at 315-866-6330 for additional questions about access or wildlife resources on the WMA.

State Senator, Joseph A. Griffo said, "This viewing tower will provide residents, visitors and families with more opportunity to take advantage of what the Utica Marsh has to offer and to hopefully see more of the wildlife that calls the marsh home. It also will make the marsh a more attractive destination for those looking to check out the outdoors and to see what Mother Nature has to offer in the Mohawk Valley."

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica said, "The Utica Marsh is a unique natural resource, with a wide variety of birds and other wildlife partly within the City of Utica. The opening of this new observation tower and recently completed trail improvements will make this diverse area accessible for families, school students, and birders. This project is another example of Governor Cuomo's continuing efforts to preserve and enhance our state's valuable natural resources. I certainly encourage people to take a walk to this new viewing area to experience the sights and sounds of this diverse area."

City of Utica Mayor, Robert M. Palmieri said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos for their continued support of Upstate New York and commend their initiative to reconnect New Yorkers to the rich natural resources that surround us. The new viewing tower at Utica's Wildlife Marsh will provide onlookers the ability to experience this unique habitat in a new interactive way which enhances quality of life initiatives for our residents and promotes tourism to our great city."

New York State Canal Corporation Director, Brian U. Stratton said, "We are excited to be part of the revitalization of the Utica Marsh. Birding has long been a popular activity on the canal system and this project is bound to be a big draw."
Jason Kemper, Chair of the Conservation Fund Advisory Board said, "New York offers some of the best outdoor recreation in the country, and the new tower at Utica Marsh makes it even easier for people of all ages to enjoy this unique area. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos for their commitment to expanding opportunities to enjoy fishing, hunting and wildlife-based recreation."

"The Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area offers a variety of habitat that several priority species rely on for breeding and overwintering needs," said Jillian Liner, Director of Bird Conservation with Audubon New York. "This new tower provides a glimpse into bird-life not often enjoyed by the public, and presents a new opportunity for people to learn about and explore ways to support birds and wildlife within their community. Audubon New York applauds NYS DEC's commitment to increasing accessibility to wildlife viewing areas and looks forward to partnering with the department on future programs."

Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY Initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. This initiative will support the completion of more than 75 projects over the next three years, ranging from improvements to youth camps and environmental education centers to new boat launches, duck blinds, and hiking trails. Read more about Adventure NY (PDF) (5.1 MB).

For more information on the Utica Marsh WMA, including maps and images of the new tower can be found on DEC's website.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Andrea C. Pedrick
    317 Washington Street
    Watertown, NY 13601
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to Region 6