Thousands of recycled Christmas trees are being used to restore dunes washed away by Hurricane Sandy. Many of the trees are being used on Long Beach, which received some of the most devastating damage in the storm.
Sand dunes are an important feature along the shore. They act as a natural barrier between the sea and the surrounding area. Sand dunes can decrease the devastation of flooding from storm surges and high waves. During Hurricane Sandy, Long Beach in New York lost up to five feet of elevation along the sand dunes.
As discussed on Deleware.gov, there are several ways sand dunes can be built or restored. Planting new grass can be helpful as it spreads rapidly and helps secure the existing dunes. As the grass grows, particles of sand will get trapped among the plants and the dunes will grow in size. Sand fencing and pedestrian walkways can prevent further erosion from foot traffic.
Although it is not recommended that citizens dump their vegetation including recycled Christmas trees along the beaches, city officials have approved this plan. Nearly 100 volunteers have helped arrange thousands of Christmas trees, which will restore Long Beach dunes washed away by Hurricane Sandy.
As reported by New York Times, the trees will act in much the same way as grass without having to wait for the growth. The North Carolina park service has seen success with a similar program as explained by Charlie Peek:
“The trees act in place of natural plant growth. It gives it a little head start, a little bit of a helping hand. In an ideal situation the plant growth comes in after it and starts building a natural dune.”
Officials and volunteers hope this is a program that continue yearly as the trees will serve a useful purpose. Over the course of several years, Christmas trees may eventually fully restore the dues that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.