Two developments this month could boost efforts to increase tourism in Southern Maryland.

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority of the Maryland Historical Trust has certified specific areas within Southern Maryland as eligible to seek grants to support a range of programs and projects.

Examples cited by the Southern Maryland Travel and Tourism Committee and the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium include heritage tours, maps and interpretive brochures, public programs, exhibits, events and Web site development. Development of or participation in educational programs that encourage or enhance preservation, revitalization, and interpretation of Southern Maryland's heritage resources are also eligible.

The consortium will oversee the grant application process. Details on the area's heritage tourism plan and eligibility for grants are available on the Web site www.southernmdisfun.com.

The consortium also announced a mini-grant program with a maximum award of $500, which requires a 1-to-1 cash match. Applications are available through the consortium at 301-870-2520 or from the tourism offices of Calvert (410-535-4583), Charles (301-645-0551) or St. Mary's (301-475-4200, Ext. 1403) counties.

The 2004 Mini-Grant application deadline is Sept. 24. Applications for all of the grants programs should be sent to: Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium, PO Box 745, Hughesville, Md. 20637.

Nonprofit organizations, historical sites, museums, local jurisdictions or individuals with heritage tourism projects are eligible to apply. Information about the grant programs is available from the Southern Maryland consortium and the county tourism offices and at www.marylandhistoricaltrust.net/hb-1.html.