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DEC acquires 525 acres in Western New York for wildlife management

Pictured is the North Collins Wildlife Management Area recently opened by the state DEC.

NORTH COLLINS — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has acquired 525 acres in North Collins to create the Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area.

The land offers hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities and becomes the largest state-owned Wildlife Management Area in Erie County.

“The new Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area will provide outstanding wildlife-based recreational opportunities for visitors while protecting important habitat for many local species,” said Abby Snyder, DEC Region 9 director. “DEC will continue to work with our public and private partners to conserve critical parcels like this that connect our communities to natural resources.”

Transferred to DEC by the state Office of Mental Health, the Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area includes the Clear Lake Reservoir and surrounding property. The 43-acre lake offers wildlife viewing opportunities and provides important habitat for turtles, salamanders, and waterfowl such as Canada geese, wood ducks, and mallards. The lake was constructed in the 1920s for use as a water reservoir for the former Gowanda Psychiatric Center and was later used by the Collins Correctional Facility.

The parcel’s landscape includes mature forest, wetlands, brushland, and open fields that support a variety of species including ruffed grouse, wild turkey, woodcock, white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, red and gray fox, and migratory songbirds.

The Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area will be actively managed by DEC Region 9’s Bureau of Wildlife with the primary goal of preserving and enhancing the property’s wildlife habitat and providing active wildlife-dependent recreation. In addition, non-wildlife dependent recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking, and canoeing are also allowed as long as these activities do not impede or interfere with the primary wildlife management usage goals of the area. Prohibited activities at Clear Lake WMA include swimming, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking, target shooting, or the use of motorized boats, boat trailers, ATVs, or snowmobiles.

The Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area can be accessed on the north side of Genesee Road in North Collins, west of Route 75. DEC recently installed two parking areas to improve public access to the site. The parking area located on the lake’s east side is designated for use by visitors hand-launching small boats, kayaks, or canoes. Use of trailers is not allowed.

Wildlife Management Areas are lands owned by New York state under the control and management of DEC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. These lands are acquired primarily for wildlife reproduction and survival, as well as providing for wildlife-based recreational opportunities. Wildlife Management Areas provide areas for the public to interact with a wide variety of wildlife species. There are 123 Wildlife Management Areas across the state, comprising 235,000 acres.

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