HARMONY - The Watts Flats wildlife management area is expected to receive beneficial upgrades by this fall.
In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled 50 proposed outdoor access projects across the state to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts to 380,000 acres of untapped state-owned land. The new access points allow for more than $6 million in projects for access to hunting and fishing, boat launches and new hiking opportunities.
Included in the list of proposed projects is Watts Flats wildlife management area, a 1,300-acre area located in the town of Harmony.
"The proposed project will upgrade the site's parking area to improve accessibility and also upgrade .75 miles of Green Flats Road," said Megan Gollwitzer, of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Communications. "In addition, the project will also include the construction of an accessible 10-by-12-foot wildlife observation platform and hunting blind overlook in the marsh."
According to Gollwitzer, the project is slated to begin the spring of 2014 and will be completed by fall.
The project is estimated to cost roughly $75,000.
According to William Lawson, Harmony supervisor, 28 percent of the town is made up of state woodlands.
"We welcome the state giving some much-needed attention to the woods and water they are tasked to provide custodial care for," Lawson said. "I visit (Watts Flats) as often as possible, and look forward to improvements such as an observation deck and other facilities."
"Expanding access to more of the beautiful lands that New York has to offer will open recreational opportunities that for too long have not been available to our residents and tourists," Cuomo said. "These projects will enrich the outdoor activity offerings, improve the quality of life in our communities and position New York state as a recreation destination."
Additional actions intended to help make New York a destination for recreation include unveiling the new state Adventure Licenses, which allow outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, anglers and hunters to consolidate their recreational licenses and benefits onto their driver's license and the debut of the Lifetime Empire Passport, which offers state park visitors the option of paying a one-time fee for lifetime access to the parks.
Watts Flats was purchased by the DEC in 1979. Of the 1,300 acres, 1,000 acres of Watts Flats are wetlands.
The land is regularly used for cross-country skiing, fishing, hiking, hunting, nature study and trapping. No motorized vehicles are allowed on-site.
Watts Flats is also home to diverse wildlife species, including beaver, mallards, mink, muskrat, raccoon, wood ducks, black ducks, Canada geese, deer, ruffed grouse, woodcock and herons, as well as a variety of song birds.
The east branch of Little Brokenstraw Creek flows through the area, providing access to game fish including northern pike, bullhead and sunfish.