Wells Bay Lakeshore

Wells Bay Preserve of Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy

The Wells Bay Lakeshore Forest Preserve protects 200 feet of Chautauqua Lake shoreline. Covered in wetlands, the preserve can be difficult for hiking and adventuring, but it’s a popular spot for botanists and birdwatchers observing the local flora and fauna, and it offers an excellent spot for anglers.

Size: 3.5 acres

Year Conserved by CWC:

Location and Parking:  Located on the south shore of Chautauqua Lake in Chautauqua County.  The preserve can be easily accessed at the end of Wells Bay Road north of Route 394 in the town of North Harmony.  There is a small parking area. There are two main CWC Preserve signs at this preserve: one at the end of Wells Bay Road and one on the lakeshore.

Recreational Use:  There are currently no developed trails or any other facilities within the preserve.  Because the preserve does not have trails and is characterized by wetlands with deep mud, traversing the preserve can be difficult for those not accustomed to walking off-trail. It is primarily used by naturalists, birdwatchers and fishermen.  

Conservation Values:  Protects approximately 200 feet of naturally vegetated lakeshore.  Trees along the lake offer natural bank protection and stabilization.  Water is filtered as it passes through wetland plant communities en route to Chautauqua Lake.

Features of Interest:  The preserve is bordered on the north by Chautauqua Lake.  The land is currently vacant and forested, dimpled with wetlands in the lower-lying areas. There is a small, shallow stream running through the west side of the property and into the lake.

Species of Interest:

Trees: eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminate), Norway spruce (Picea abies), Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), American elm (Ulmus americana)

Understory: eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), ginseng (Panax sp.)

Shrubs: black currant (Ribes nigrum), elderberry (Sambucus sp.)

Wildflowers:  marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), purple trillium (Trillium erectum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), starflower (Trientalis borealis), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), Lowrie’s aster (Symphyotrichum lowrieanum)

Birds:  common loon (Gavia immer), belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

Amphibians: red backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus)