North of Cayuga Lake is a vast, flat area filled with marshes and wetlands that is a stopover for a tremendous number of migratory waterfowl along the Atlantic Flyway (see Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for more information). The area is often referred to as the Montezuma Wetland Complex and includes more than 50,000 acres of land that is preserved and restored by a variety of governmental and private organizations including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, private land owners and, of course, the New York Audubon Society. Along the northwest edge of the complex is the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC), which is often referred to as the information hub of this vast network of important ecological niches.
In addition to the MAC building, there are two ponds, an observation platform, as well as streams and wetlands located on the 198 acre property. Walking trails loop around the ponds and through the adjacent fields and forest; note that dogs and bikes are not permitted along the trails.
Aside from the wildlife viewing and important preserved habitats that can be explored on the property, the role the MAC plays as an informational and activity hub for the Montezuma Wetland Complex as a whole cannot be understated. The center offers numerous events that focus on habitat restoration, wetland ecology, bird migration and general nature-oriented programs, such as locavore and wild edibles demonstrations. Of particular note are organized canoe and kayak trips around Howland Island and nearby Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. These boating trips are offered regularly and are great opportunities for people hoping to learn more about the Montezuma Wetland Complex and/or for trying out canoeing and kayaking.
In winter, snowshoes are available for rent so the exploration of the area can continue year round. The MAC also has youth camps and festivals related to wildlife and conservation through the summer season.
In short, any plan for visiting the facilities within the Montezuma Wetland Complex should include a short stop at the MAC to see what is going on on that day or in near the future. At the very least, pick up a copy of the incredibly useful and informative guide and map provided by the Friends of Montezuma Wetland Complex.