Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area
Along with the adjacent Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge to the east and the Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area farther to the east, Tonawanda WMA forms a continuous region of conservation and wildlife management zones, the Alabama Swamp Complex, across three counties. Approximately 100,000 migratory birds pass through the area each year.
Except for Bartel Road and Meadville Road, both of which pass through the WMA, all other roads are unpaved and reserved for official use. Pedestrian traffic in the WMA uses these roads and other paths along the dikes, which divided the WMA into separate marshes.
Two observation areas with ample parking and public information are located along Lewiston Road.
The wildlife management area is located in a swampy area that has been a regular stopping point for migratory wildfowl from before historic times. The area was hunted by natives and early settlers. Eventually, the land was purchased to protect the wildlife from over-hunting using funds from duck stamps and taxes on firearms and ammunition. The three stated objectives of the WMA are (1) waterfowl production, (2) waterfowl protection, and (3) flood control.
The WMA consists of 5,600 acres (23 km2), mostly wetland. With the other two adjacent locations, the entire area is 19,000 acres (77 km2).
The Tonawanda WMA is on a floodplain of the Tonawanda Creek. Water retention is facilitated by impoundments, which increase wetland area and control flooding in nearby inhabited areas.
NY Route 77, Lewiston Road, passes through the north part of the WMA.
The south boundary of part of Tonawanda WMA is the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.
Located a several miles north of the Tonawanda WMA is the small (385 acres) Hartland Swamp Wildlife Management Area in the Town of Hartland. Also, the former John White Memorial Game Farm, located south of the community of Alabama on NY-77 at the junction with NY-63, is also available for public use.
Public use of Tonawanda WMA
- Trapping (permits assigned by lottery).
- Nature trails and scenic views.
- Bird watching.
- Use of motorized vehicles except in parking areas.
- Hunting waterfowl in marked areas.