Jug Bay’s New Boardwalk

Chris Swarth’s swan song gets you closer to nature

Chris Swarth stands at the head of the new Jug Bay boardwalk named in his honor.

Jug Bay’s new wetlands boardwalk at the Glendening Preserve in Lothian is for nature enthusiasts, ecosystem exploring and kayakers and canoeists.
    The new boardwalk extends out to Old Galloway Creek, a Patuxent River tributary. It’s an official site on the Patuxent River water trail.
    “We needed a boardwalk in this part of the sanctuary to take advantage of it, both for park research and visitors,” said Chris Swarth, director of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for the past 23 years.
    Now Swarth is retiring, and the boardwalk is being named in his honor.
    “It’s Chris’s swan song,” said Rick Anthony, director of Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks.
    Under Swarth’s leadership, Jug Bay has expanded almost tenfold, from 178 acres to 1,600. In 2010, Jug Bay became the first county facility using solar panels.
    Swarth lived by the rule “estimate the time it’ll take and then double it.” It held true, he says, in every case, from designing and building the Observation Deck overlooking the marsh to designing the Wetland Center exhibits to renovating Plummer House for office and meeting space to the new boardwalk.
    The new 450-foot-long boardwalk — three feet wide and a just few feet above the marsh — took almost three years to complete, including, two months of hands-on construction.
    “We powered through September and October to build the thing,” Swarth said.
    Building the boardwalk took volunteers and friends, and the support of Friends of Jug Bay, Anne Arundel’s Parks and Recreation and state and federal agencies.
    The new boardwalk cost $25,000.
    “I’m proud to say the boardwalk was built under budget,” Swarth said.
    David Wehrs of Asgard Contruction in Annapolis was the contractor and worked the mucky marsh in waders with his crew, installing the 120 12-foot posts in 23 days. Each was pounded eight or nine feet into the marsh.
    “We worked six- to seven-hour days, 100 percent manual labor, just three guys pounding away and trudging through the muck,” Wehrs said.
    “Tons of volunteers hand carried all the materials down to us,” Wehrs added. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”