The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable commends the joint efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), State of Maryland and Charles County for creating a new National Marine Sanctuary, the first in 19 years. National Marine Sanctuaries support important places for outdoor recreation activities like fishing, boating, paddling, diving and more.

The proposed Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary covers 18 square miles of water and submerged land in Maryland. The site – jointly managed by NOAA, the State of Maryland and Charles County – will protect more than 100 historic shipwrecks, as well as archeological artifacts dating back nearly 12,000 years. The site also showcases the history of Native Americans in the area and the historic Potomac River fishing industry. NOAA’s Final Rule was published in the Federal Register July 8, and the designation will go into effect after 45 days of continuous Congressional session.

This new designation – the first national marine sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – will protect these cultural and natural resources while maintaining public and private uses. The easy access, up-close, on-the water activities the Sanctuary supports will help to drive the nearby outdoor recreation economy and draw upon new tourism opportunities from neighboring Washington, DC.

The area’s nomination was supported by a diverse group of individuals, as well as local, state, regional and national organizations including elected officials; ORR members and businesses; Native American, conservation, environmental and education groups; museums and historical societies. This broad scope of this coalition shows that this special area is truly deserving of becoming the nation’s newest National Marine Sanctuary.

“This designation is a huge step forward for recreation and conservation on the Potomac River,” said Glenn Hughes, President of the American Sportfishing Association. “Creating the first new National Marine Sanctuary in 19 years will allow people to learn about local history while enjoying fishing and other outdoor recreation activities for generations to come.”

“The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary designation is welcome news and will provide a significant boost to boating and other outdoor recreation in the area,” said Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Thanks to the hard work of a broad range of stakeholders, the newest National Marine Sanctuary will bolster the economies of local communities, while ensuring access to this historical site for generations to come.”

“The creation of the newest National Marine Sanctuary is a proud moment for paddlers, conservationists, the local community and more,” said Darren Bush, Owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports. “This is a treasured place for outdoor recreation, and this designation will allow people to enjoy Mallows Bay and the Potomac River for generations to come.”