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Little Big Inlet Preserve

The Little Big Inlet preserve sits at the northern most end of Chautauqua Lake, and it contains some of the largest wetland systems in Chautauqua County. The preserve does not yet feature formal trails, but those who hike through the wetlands can spot birds, waterfowl, wildlife and native fauna.

  • Size:  4.3 acres

  • Year Conserved by CWC: 2010

Conservation Values: This preserve protects a portion of the Little Big Inlet watershed, which includes some of the most extensive wetlands in the region and feeds Chautauqua Lake. These wetlands are especially important to the health of Chautauqua Lake, which sits about 650 feet from this preserve.

Recreational Use: With no formal trail system, the Little Big Inlet Wetland Preserve is used primarily by botanists and birdwatchers. Bow hunting only is allowed on this preserve.

Location and Parking: Located at the northern edge of Chautauqua Lake in the town of Chautauqua, the preserve extends northwest from it southern border on Sea Lion Drive. There is a roadside sign on Sea Lion Drive, which provides access to the site.

Features of Interest: Approximately 70 percent of the property is woody wetland, with small areas of deciduous forest and developed open space.


Trees: black cherry (Prunus serotina), American elm (Ulmus americana), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

Understory: American hornbeam (C. caroliniana), cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Shrubs: witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), elderberry (S. canadensis), spicebush (L. benzoin), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), wild currant (Ribes americanum), pink azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

Wildflowers and shrubs: Canadian lily of the valley (Maianthemum canadense), goldthread (Coptis trifolia), jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), pink wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), sensitive fern (Osmunda sensibilis), cinnamon fern (O. cinnamomea), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis)

Birds: Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula), pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheoucticus ludovicianus), eastern wood-pewee (Contopus virens), red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus)

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