Visitors flock to the Finger Lakes region year-round to enjoy its abundant open space and natural resources. Whether you’re a sportsman or wildlife enthusiast, you’ll find a diverse array of public lands (including a national wildlife refuge, national forest, six state parks and several state-owned wildlife management areas) protect and provide access to Seneca County’s unsurpassed natural resource.
History Happened Here
The region’s most famous “prize fight” occurred on Oak Island shortly after the Civil War. The fight, between local resident Henry ‘Pompey Smash’ Douglass and a civil war veteran in top condition (and nearly thirty years younger) was legendary. It was said to have lasted all day long and ended in a draw. Born into slavery, the 6’4” Douglass moved to Waterloo upon being granted his freedom and became one of the most beloved members of the community.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Established on September 12, 1938 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Montezuma is situated in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway. The refuge is located at the north end of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes Region and contains 9,809 acres. Along with the Seneca Meadows Wetlands Preserve and Sampson Army Depot, it is designated by the Audubon Society as an Important Birding Area.
NYS Park System
Providing public access to nearly seven miles of shoreline resources, Seneca County’s six state parks offer an unrivaled opportunity to experience the preserved beauty and charm of the Finger Lakes. Sampson State Park, encompassing just over 2,000 acres on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake is the fourth most visited park in the entire state system. Visitors will find camping, boating, picnicking, swimming and many other options at the local state parks.
Finger Lakes National Forest
The forest is situated between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. As New York State's only national forest, this multi-use area is reminiscent of western national forests with a great deal of open land and free-ranging cattle. The forest has over 30 miles of interconnecting trails that traverse gorges, ravines, pastures and woodlands. Additional recreational uses include: bird watching, camping, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing and cross-country skiing.
Fishing & Hunting
While the majority of all hunting occurs on private lands (subject to permission), many state lands in the Finger Lakes (Wildlife Management Areas, Preserves and State Parks) are open for hunting and trapping during the appropriate seasons. In terms of fishing, anglers of all ages find that the region’s two biggest lakes and their tributaries provide some of the best freshwater fishing in the country. Popular species are: lake trout, salmon, bass, yellow perch and northern pike.