Assawoman State Wildlife Area

Site Description

  • State: Delaware
  • County: Sussex
  • Ownership: State


  • 35 Acre Pond: 53 acres
  • 65 Acre Pond: 76 acres
  • Goose Pond: 73 acres
  • Muddy Creek: 33 acres
  • Mulberry Pond: 80 acres
  • Zigzag Marsh: 27 acres

Ecology and Management

Assawoman Wildlife Area in Bethany Beach, DE contains six impoundments covering over 300 acres. The impoundments host robust numbers of waterfowl including Wigeon, Gadwall, Buffleheads and Snow Geese during the winter. The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife does mid-winter waterfowl flights and has a Christmas Bird Count.

The impoundments are all managed to provide habitat for wintering and migratory waterfowl, but with management regimes specific to each impoundment. Water levels are kept relatively stable to promote wigeongrass production in the 65-Acre, 35-Acre, Mulberry, and Zigzag Marsh Ponds.


The impoundments border the little Assawoman Bay, one of Delaware’s inland bays, and are thus subject to wave energy and tidal forces. The impoundments have experienced some overtopping and saltwater intrusion during hurricanes, including Hurricane Sandy.

Human Value

There are no visitor use surveys at Assawoman WMA, but the site does host campers from Camp Barnes, a Delaware State Police sponsored free summer camp for kids between 10 – 13 years of age.

Literature Resources

Below is a list of articles describing research occurring at or near the impoundments:
  • Chamberlain, E. B. A survey of the marshes of Delaware. Dover, Delaware: The State of Delaware, Board of Game and Fish Commissioners; 1951.
  • Chan, S., and S. Shulte. A Plan for Monitoring Shorebirds During the Non-breeding Season in Bird Monitoring Region Delaware – BCR 30. Manomet, Massachusetts: Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; 2003.
  • Coxe, R. Historical analysis and map of vegetation communities, land covers, and habitats of Assawoman Wildlife Area, Sussex County, Delaware. Smyrna, Delaware: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; 2012. 289 p.
  • Florschutz, O. Mosquito production and wildlife usage in natural, ditched, and impounded tidal marshes on Assawoman Wildlife Area, Delaware. University of Delaware; 1959.
  • Gano Jr., R. D. Assawoman Wildlife Area Management Plan. Dover, Delaware: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife; 1996.
  • Gano Jr., R. D. 1991. Assawoman Wildlife Area: a description of its history and present use. Pages 27-28 In Ullman, W., editor. A day in the life of Delaware’s forgotten bay: a scientific survey of Little Assawoman Bay, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Dover, Delaware.