Dune Restoration 101

Last week, we visited the National Seashore, and Oliver witnessed first hand the devastating effects of hurricanes along our coastline.  From his perspective, he was very concerned that the beach would not be able to bounce back.  We felt that this could be a very good teaching moment and since then have been in search of more information about coastal erosion.  I absolutely understand that a five year old can over analyze a situation and it was apparent a little anxiety was running through his head.  We assured Oliver that when sand dunes are damaged from storms or human activity, they can be repaired or restored.  He asked, when can he start?

Luckly, yesterday we had the honor of volunteering with the Alabama Gulf State Park for their yearly christmas tree dune restoration initiative.  They collect christmas trees and recycle them to build up the sand dunes.  We learned that old christmas trees can work better than sand fencing and when placed correctly, can quickly help restore a dune to a protective barrier.  Though a very labor intensive project, the properly placed trees speed up nature’s work by collecting sand during natural sand movement by the wind.  Within 4 to 6 months of placement, small sand hills form and natural vegetation can have a place to take root.  When placed in horseshoe shape traps, the process can go even faster.  Oliver really enjoyed the fact the discarded trees also offer the local wildlife a little protection during the process.  Using the exposed trees for cover, our beach friends deposit seeds that help the natural vegetation take hold, as if they are little farmers. 

Oliver had a great time at the event and was very pleased that he learned a little about how to restore the shore.  The hands on experience really helped lower his anxiety, and the homemade cookie they offered as a reward was truly the icing on the cake for him.  He really loves the beach and this empowering experience has opened his eyes a little wider.  

beach nourishment

Alabama Gulf State Park

Sand Dune Renourishment

Restoration of the Dunes

Alabama Gulf State Park