The Anacostia Trails Heritage Area is full of wonderful places to visit.
Maryland has a nationally unique state heritage tourism program that includes 13 designated areas working in every corner of the state – only New York and Pennsylvania have similar programs. Founded in 1997, the program is administered by the Maryland Heritage Area Authority and is led by State Secretary of Planning Robert McCord. In these certified regions, public and private partners make commitments to preserving historical, cultural, and natural resources for sustainable economic development through heritage tourism. Prince George’s County boosts one of these special tourism investment districts called the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area.
The Anacostia Trails Heritage Area was first certified in 2001 and supported by a coalition of municipalities within the area’s boundary. All state Heritage Area boundaries are carefully considered and researched – inclusion requires alignment with historical themes, local support, and visitor-ready sites. Prince George’s County’s heritage area encompasses over 100 square miles of Northern Prince Georges County – bordered by Washington, D.C. to the south, Montgomery County to the West, Howard and Anne Arundel County to the North and encompassing portions of Bowie, Glenn Dale, and Cheverly to the East. The organization is working with state, county, and local partners on a possible boundary expansion into Southern Prince George’s County.
The Heritage Area brings a valuable distinction and financial resource for cultural attractions. Inclusion brings access to grants, technical assistance, and marketing. As an official management partner with the state, Anacostia Trails Heritage Area’s impact is evaluated regularly by the Maryland Heritage Area’s Authority. In a 2020 report, the organization’s economic impact was calculated at $36.1 million annually including enticing heritage tourists to the region and the organization’s grantmaking activities.
Based on the success of the organization’s efforts and the sustained need for tourism marketing, Anacostia Trails Heritage Area embarked on a boundary expansion feasibility study. With state and county funding, a highly-specialized team of consultants has been crafting a possible approach to the bring the program to a larger area of Prince George’s County, specifically to the unincorporated areas of Southern Prince George’s County. Anacostia Trails Heritage Area is working very closely with partners across Prince George’s County as well as the Southern Maryland State Heritage Area. In some areas of southern Prince George’s County, cultural attractions also have the opportunity to be part of a proposed Southern Maryland National Heritage Area that would bring an additional level of support.
The possible areas to be included in a future boundary expansion of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area – and thus eligible for the organization’s grants, assistance, and partnership, include but are not limited to:
- Fairmount Heights
- Seat Pleasant
- Oxon Hill
- Temple Hills
- Fort Washington
- Upper Marlboro
- Cedar Haven
- Eagle Harbor
There is a state framework for possible expansion and the organization is nearly complete with the first phase. A draft report, called a Situation Boundary Analysis, will be released in early 2022. The next phase of the project would include amendments to the Heritage Area’s management and interpretation plans, stakeholder meetings and tours, and a hearing and determination by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.