More volunteers are needed at South Bethany and Delaware Seashore State Park for Delaware’s annual beach grass planting event set for 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 23. The event, now in its 24th year, helps protect Delaware shorelines by planting Cape American beach grass on sand dunes at beaches along the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
Last year approximately 800 environmental enthusiasts, families and students planted more than 150,000 stems of beach grass along four miles of coastline between Delaware Seashore State Park and Kitts Hummock Beach.
According to Jennifer Luoma, environmental scientist with DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section and coordinator of the event, other sites have enough volunteers signed up, but some are needed in South Bethany and Delaware Seashore State Park, north of the Indian River Inlet.
“This year, we are replanting dunes that have been rebuilt following recent beach replenishment projects and from repairs due to Hurricane Sandy,” Luoma said. “We have a large area to plant and could really use more volunteers.”
Sand dunes are essential for protection against damaging coastal storms. When sand dunes are destroyed, storm waves can rush inland, flood properties and put lives at risk. Stabilized dunes absorb wave energy and act as major sand storage areas, which replenish sand to eroded beaches during a storm.
Beach grass helps to build and stabilize dunes by trapping windblown sand. As the grass traps the sand, it builds the dunes higher and wider, which makes dunes more protective of the structures behind them. Since the program was introduced in 1989, more than five million stems of beach grass have been planted by dedicated volunteers.