Monocacy Scenic River

The Monocacy River was designated by the State of Maryland as a State Scenic River in 1974 following the adoption of the Maryland Scenic and Wild Rivers Act of 1968.  The Monocacy River forms at the confluence of Marsh Creek and Rock Creek at the Pennsylvania state line and forms the boundary between Frederick and Carroll Counties.  From this point the Monocacy flows for 58 miles to the Potomac River.  The Monocacy River watershed encompasses some 974 square miles including portions of Frederick County, Carroll County, and Adams County PA and is the largest Maryland tributary to the Potomac River.

With the State Scenic River designation came the need to address how the River, its uses, and resources can be managed.  In the late 1980's the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initiated the preparation; a management plan with assistance from Frederick and Carroll Counties' staff and a Monocacy Scenic River Local Advisory Board.  The Monocacy Scenic River Study and Management Plan was subsequently approved by both counties in May 1990.

In 1992 Frederick County formally established the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board, which is a 10-member bi-county board with Carroll County.  The purpose of the advisory board is to advise and provide recommendations to the Frederick County Council on matters concerning the Monocacy River.

Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan

​The initial management plan was prepared by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and approved by Frederick and Carroll counties in May 1990.  The purpose of the plan is to identify riverine resources and issues and provide recommendations that address protection and conservation of the resources and the river.

In 2016 the River Board initiated an update of the 1990 Plan and released an initial draft plan in October 2016.  Following numerous public outreach meetings the River Board released a final draft plan in June 2017, held a public hearing in July, and voted on a Recommended Plan on August 2, 2017.  The Recommended Plan was referred to both counties for review, public hearings, and consideration to adopt.

In March 2018 the River Board requested that both counties send the 2017 Recommended Plan back to the River Board for revision.  The Frederick County Council did so in July 2018.  The River Board released a revised Recommended Plan on November 8, 2018, which was transmitted back to the counties for review.  The Carroll County Board of County Commissioners approved the plan on November 27, 2018 while Frederick County conducted its review into 2019.

After a public hearing in February 2019 the County Council subsequently voted to reject the 2018 Recommended Plan and to consider revisions to the 2017 Recommended Plan.  The Council adopted 26 amendments to the 2017 Plan and voted to adopt a final Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan on April 16, 2019.

Council Amendments
Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan - Approved April 16, 2019


General Information 


Fish Kills/Hazardous Spills
If you find dead or dying fish in the Monocacy River or Potomac River, please contact the Maryland Safety Environmental Hotline (877) 224-7229 or the DNR-Fisheries Service at (301) 898-5443 with the time, date, location, fish species, and approximate number of affected fish.  Photographs and a description of any unusual behavior or water conditions are also helpful.

For hazardous material spills in the Monocacy River or Potomac River watersheds view in this
link.