Under the boardwalk: Trail allows Ebenezer Swamp tour without the wet feet

A new boardwalk at the University of Montevallo&8217;s Ebenezer Swamp allows visitors to walk into the heart of the swamp without ever getting their feet wet.

Construction ended last week on the first part of a 2,000-foot trail that winds throughout the wetlands.

&8220;Our boardwalk is going to open up a whole new world to a lot of people who wouldn&8217;t otherwise venture into such places,&8221; said Mike Hardig, associate professor of biology. &8220;It is going to give them an opportunity to see for themselves the beauty and intimate details of one of the fastest disappearing &8212; yet incredibly crucial &8212; habitat types.&8221;

A Florida-based company specializing in natural-bridge construction built the 6-foot wide boardwalk and two viewing platforms.

Construction on the first 600 feet began April 9 and was completed Monday, May 11.

The boardwalk is a key part of future plans for the wetlands, which also includes a nearby research center. Hardig said the proposed facility will be a great learning tool for high school and middle school students.

&8220;The boardwalk will allow guides to lead small groups safely out into the heart of the swamp, minimizing impact on the swamp and maximizing the safety of visitors,&8221; he said.

Plaques &8212; spaced periodically along the boardwalk &8212; illustrate points of interest pertaining to the swamp and wetlands in general, Hardig said.

Owned by the university, Ebenezer Wetland is a 65-acre hardwood swamp located on Spring Creek in Shelby County. Mildred Orr and her late son, Arthur Bolton, gave the property to UM in 1998