Deer in Spring Landscape

Dierssen WMA

Photograph of Great Blue Heron, courtesy of John WhiteThis 40-acre tract of marshy woodland between the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) and the Potomac River was donated to the state for use as a waterfowl sanctuary. Two man-made ponds, or "impoundments," and adjacent forest make for a quiet interlude for strollers on the Canal Tow Path.

What To See

Waterfowl species are some of the most colorful birds in Maryland. With the Potomac serving as a natural migration route, wood ducks, teal and mallards can all be seen in and around the impoundments. Wood ducks also use the many nest boxes erected near the water. White-tailed deer, gray and red fox, and wild turkeys are more secretive but can sometimes be seen by the patient and quiet observer, especially in the very early morning hours. Dierssen WMA provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, furbearers and songbirds.

What To Do

For nature photographers, beavers and waterfowl may strike an irresistible pose. Dierssen is a place of quiet contemplation where visitors will find peace in the scenery and in the activities of wildlife.

Area Regulations

  • Dierssen WMA has been designated as a wildlife sanctuary.
  • No hunting or trapping allowed.
  • No motorized vehicles.
  • Dierssen WMA is open to hiking, bird watching and nature photography year round.
  • Hiking trail to the Potomac River.
  • Visitors to the management area should be aware of biting insects, mosquitoes and ticks from April-December. 
  • Site Management Practices

  • Two man-made ponds or impoundments are maintained on the site.
  • Managed as a waterfowl sanctuary.
  • Directions

    Dissern WMA is located in Montgomery county MarylandLocated in Montgomery County along the C&O Canal upriver from Pennyfield Lock. From the Capital Beltway, take Exit 39, MD Route 190 west (River Road) toward Potomac. Turn left on Pennyfield Lock Road. On the C&O Canal Tow Path, head west for approximately 1/2 mile. For more information, contact the Gwynnbrook Work Center at (410) 356-9272.

    Photograph of Great Blue Heron, courtesy of John White


    This area is a part of Marylandís Department of Natural Resources public land system and is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The primary mission of the WMA system is to conserve and enhance wildlife populations and their respective habitats as well as to provide public recreational use of the Stateís wildlife resources.

    Eighty-five percent of the funding for Maryland's state wildlife programs comes from hunting license fees and a federal excise tax on sport hunting devices and ammunition. The federal aid funds are derived from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (or Pittman-Robertson) Fund, which sportsmen and women have been contributing to since 1937. Each state receives a share of the funds, which is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service; these funds are used for wildlife conservation and hunter education programs, including the management of the WMA system.

    Other sources of funds for land acquisition include Program Open Space Funding for Maryland's State and local parks and conservation areas, provided through The Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space. Established in 1969, Program Open Space symbolizes Maryland's long-term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.