A woman with binoculars enjoys a morning bird walk.
Morning Bird Walk Enjoying a morning bird outing on the Blue Mash Trail, Maryland. © Daniel White/TNC

Stories in Maryland/DC

MDDC Preserve Guidelines

Observe and enjoy Maryland's public preserves.

The Nature Conservancy’s preserves are set aside to protect natural plant and animal communities. We invite you to observe and enjoy these preserves.

Every visitor has an impact. Please follow these guidelines to protect yourself and nature.

  • Preserves are open to the public during daylight hours. 
  • Passive recreation such as walking, bird watching and photography is welcomed.  
The following activities are not allowed:
  • Bringing dogs onto the preserve. Dogs are not permitted on Maryland preserves.
  • Picking flowers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Removing rocks or other parts of the landscape
  • Smoking
  • Camping, fires or cookouts
  • Driving motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, except on designated access roads
  • Biking
  • Fishing, trapping or hunting, except as otherwise posted
  • Horseback riding
  • Feeding wildlife
  • Releasing animals or introducing plants
  • Disposing of trash or other waste, including biodegradable materials
  • Use trails.
  • Avoid walking in wet, boggy areas.
  • Inspect pant legs and shoes to remove seeds before entering and when leaving the preserve. Failure to do so could introduce unwanted weeds to new locations.
  • If you flush a ground-nesting bird, stop and avoid walking near the nest area.
  • Observe all posted signs.
  • Please do not remove stakes, signs, flagging, tape or other objects; they might be part of a research project.
  • Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to the preserve.

For your own comfort and enjoyment, come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes for hiking, pack some rain gear and wear long pants with socks over them to protect yourself from ticks and poison ivy.

Bring along insect repellent and sunscreen for protection. Always remember to carry a water bottle for thirst quenching. And, of course, bring your binoculars, camera, field guide and a compass.


When you get home, plan to drop your clothing directly in the laundry and do a tick check before you shower. Deer ticks, the type that carry lyme disease, are about the size of a pinhead and tend to attach in hair, under ears, underarms, trunk of the body, groin and backs of the knees.

Remove them by gently pulling with tweezers and wipe the skin near the bite with a mild disinfectant. If, within 7-10 days after exposure, you experience a rash (especially an expanding "bull's eye" rash), chills, fever, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and/or aching joints and muscles, contact your doctor.

You can find more information on lyme disease at www.aldf.com or by calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (404) 332-4555.


If you want to conduct research on a Nature Conservancy preserve, please share your plans with us and receive permission before starting. Contact Deborah Barber, Director of Land Management, at 301-897-8570 or dbarber@tnc.org.

If you observe any illegal activity on a preserve such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. However, do feel free to call local law enforcement.

Enjoy your visit and please report any problems with a preserve to the Maryland Chapter at 301-897-8570.

Learn More About Our Preserves

Before your trip, download one of our many self-guided audio tours to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!