Our Mission

To increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of estuarine and other natural ecosystems and their conservation through outdoor education, research, stewardship, and volunteering.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (JBWS or Sanctuary) is located within the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River, in southern Anne Arundel County. It was established in 1985 and is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. The Sanctuary protects about 1,700 acres of unique tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River. This protected land provides a safe haven for a high diversity of plants, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and microbes, and to rich Native American cultural resources.

The Audubon Maryland-DC designated Jug Bay in 2016 as an Important Bird Area. Jug Bay is a site of statewide importance for bird conservation as its extensive tidal freshwater wetlands support important populations of freshwater marsh bird species such as least bittern, sora, and Virginia rail.

With over 80 identified archaeological sites of interest, Jug Bay is a research hotspot showcasing the continuity of human habitation from 11,000 years ago to the present day. Much of our current understanding of our regional cultural legacy can be explored within the Native American Archaeology in Anne Arundel County, Maryland Heritage Toolbox resource.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a place to learn, teach, research, and enjoy.

  • School groups come to experience the wetlands, forests, and streams. They practice field testing techniques, develop observational skills, and consider the impacts of human activity on nature. 

  • Researchers study the many facets of Sanctuary's habitats and wildlife, such as marsh surface elevation, water quality, native bees, amphibians, birds, etc. 

  • Stewardship activities are integral to maintaining Sanctuary's unique ecosystems, for example, the restoration of our magnificent wild rice population that provides food for many migratory birds. 

  • Volunteers are integral to all Sanctuary projects. 

  • The public comes to enjoy the 19 miles of trails and the many educational programs we offer.

Vital Collaborators


The Friends of Jug Bay

​Founded in 1986, the Friends of Jug Bay (FOJB) is a non-profit organization that supports the preservation and conservation of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. With over 600 members the FOJB provide critical support to Sanctuary's programs, activities, and its long-term protection. Support from the FOJB comes in the form of volunteers, research internships, summer camp scholarships, staff development support, acquisition of research and education equipment and materials, etc.

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Patuxent River Park

​Patuxent River Park is part of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It was established in 1962 and comprises over 7,500 acres of riverside parkland in Prince George's County that protects the land's natural resources and preserve the scenic character of the park. Patuxent River Park is our "sister" organization across the Patuxent River and because nature knows no boundaries, we collaborate to protect this valuable natural resource by working together on outdoor education, research, and restoration efforts.

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Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative

The Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative is one of five Cooperatives established by the NOAA Sentinel Site Program. These Cooperatives, with their unique geographic settings make them ideal places to study and address the effects of sea level change on coastal communities. Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, as a component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, is a partner of the Chesapeake Bay Cooperative along with 20 more organizations. The goal of the cooperative is to provide information to Chesapeake Bay communities and managers who need to address challenges such as storm flooding, long term, local sea level rise, barrier island movement, degraded water quality, and wetland loss. The information will also be useful to federal and state restoration planners and living resource managers who are addressing these challenges.

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Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership

The mission of the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership is to "maintain and enhance native bird populations and the Maryland habitats they use by fostering partnerships with public and private entities and promoting citizen science". Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary and the Friends of Jug Bay are partners with the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership and collaborate through education, outreach, and citizen science efforts.


Maryland Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

In 1990 the Sanctuary was designated as one of three components within the Maryland Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. (CBNERR-MD)  - a research, stewardship, and education program administered jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. CBNERR-MD protects and manages 6,000 acres of natural land​s and waters in Maryland. These areas serve as living laboratories and classrooms through which we address key Chesapeake Bay issues.

Join the Friends of Jug Bay who work year round to support this wonderful Sanctuary.