— Governor Wes Moore today celebrated the launch of the National Heritage Area at the Piscataway Park site in Accokeek, Maryland. The event celebrated the recent National Heritage Area designation for Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, and southern Prince George’s counties that will raise the national and international profile of the region and bring significant economic benefits to Maryland. The designation of the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area will support the 400th Commemoration of the Founding of Maryland in 2034.
“Today, we gather to celebrate the history of the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe – and the history of all communities that have shared in the rich heritage of Southern Maryland,” said
. “When we celebrate heritage, we celebrate power – and you’ve shown us what that looks like. And while this history has been known, it hasn’t always been embraced. But that changes today!”
The Accokeek Foundation is located in Piscataway Park, within the traditional ancestral homelands of Piscataway People both past and present. Their mission is to cultivate a passion for the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and commit to stewardship and sustainability. The foundation acknowledges and honors the Piscataway land, waterways, and the people who have stewarded the land throughout generations. The park offers a network of hiking trails winding through wetlands, a native tree arboretum, and an award-winning forest restoration project.
The United States Congress passed the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area Act (included in the Heritage Areas Act) on December 22, 2022, and it was signed into law by President Joe Biden on January 5, 2023. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), authorizes $10 million in federal funding over 10 years.
Also in attendance at today’s event: Lt. Governor Aruna Miller, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, and U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz. Several cultural and artistic groups performed, including the Piscataway Indian Nation drums, Piscataway Conoy Drum Circle, Spring Ridge Rhythm Club, and David and Ginger Hildebrand.
Founded in 1957 to protect the view from Mount Vernon across the Potomac River, the Accokeek Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization, became one of the nation's first land trusts.
With the new Southern Maryland National Heritage Area, there are now two Maryland-centered National Heritage Areas; the other is the Baltimore National Heritage Area. There are also two multi-state heritage areas that include Maryland: the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (parts of Maryland and West Virginia) and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area (parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia).
Piscataway Park has more than 200 acres to explore. From nature trails to the sweeping Potomac River, the park provides countless opportunities for adventure. Piscataway Park is also home to a wide range of plants and animals. Free and open to the public year-round, Piscataway Park houses the National Colonial Farm, a portion of the Captain John Smith and Potomac Heritage scenic trails, a series of seven nature trails, and almost 3 miles of Potomac River shoreline. For information on visiting Piscataway Park, go to: https://www.accokeek.org/visit