Christmas Trees Give Back To Our Coastal Dune Systems

Dated: 12/21/2019

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Christmas trees have been used to help rebuild and maintain sand dunes, providing habitat for birds and other wildlife and helping to protect homes and businesses on the coast.

It takes years, but eventually the trees and fences get buried in the sand and provide the foundations of a good, healthy dune. Other communities have also found that naturally built-up sand dunes are more stable and durable than dunes that are just pushed up by bulldozers.

For example, before 1992, sand dunes at South Seaside Park, NJ had been flattened to provide better access to the beach. But a Nor’easter in 1992 served as a wake-up call to rebuild those dunes. The community, with volunteers, started rebuilding the dunes, using old Christmas trees along with fencing to hold sand and allow it to build behind the structures. These sand dunes acted as a natural defense for communities when Hurricane Sandy battered the Jersey Shore.

Similar projects are being undertaken along the East Coast and along the Gulf of Mexico, providing resilient coasts and ultimately safer protection from the impact of storms. Healthy dunes also offer good habitat for shorebirds, like endangered piping plovers.

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Kim Maxwell

Kimberly Maxwell, a fourth generation in Walton County, knows the community and its wonderful lifestyle firsthand. Although she was born in NYC, moved to NC in her high school and college years, her m....

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