Huge turnout for beach grass planting March 22

March 29, 2014

Last Saturday, I joined close to 1,000 other folks at the north side of Indian River Inlet, where we planted beach grass along a one-mile section of the refurbished dunes repaired after a hard nor’easter washed the previous beach away and deposited it on Route 1. I arrived around 8 a.m. along with 20 other members of the Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen to provide transportation for anyone who needed assistance. I thought we would be moving folks from the parking lot to the beach, but after I aired down my tires, we were told that moving people on the highway was forbidden. The organizers wanted us to move folks from the inlet to locations along the area to be planted.

By the 9 a.m. starting time, all the parking places at the public lot by the Coast Guard Station were full, so they opened the new lot by the bridge, and that quickly filled as well. It was amazing how many people came out to help.

As I crossed the beach at the ramp, there were the two trucks carrying all the beach grass plants from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control stuck in the sand. It was apparent they were going nowhere soon, so the DMS members ended up using their trucks to carry the grass plants from the stuck DNREC trucks to those 1,000 people waiting to plant them. Finally, a large front-end loader arrived and pulled the DNREC trucks out, but by then all the plants were in the hands of the volunteers.

I have attended a few other grass-planting events and this was by far the largest group of people I have seen. They came from all over and ranged in age from little kids to those of us well past the age when we can collect Medicare. Most were there in family groups, but some came from organizations like high school JROTC, Walgreens, and a busload of kids from a charter school. I especially enjoyed the kids, from toddlers to teenagers, digging and planting and having a great time. This is the type of experience they will remember, and I believe it will give them a greater respect for the environment.

And everybody worked. Planters were divided into twos with one using a stick to dig the hole while the other planted the grass. With 500 diggers and 500 planters, they had most of the dune covered in two hours. I had taken drinks from one of the stuck trucks, and I headed back to the DMS cook shack around 11:30 so the water would be available for the people as they came off the beach.

DMS had purchased 500 hot dogs to give out to the volunteers, and the cook shack became a very popular place. They didn’t get done handing out food and cleaning up the area until 2 p.m.

I'm a person who has spent most of his life working to ensure the beaches and waters I have enjoyed will still be available to the next generations, and sometimes I wonder if any of them will appreciate what they have. After watching all those people working hard to plant the grass that will help preserve the dunes, I must admit I do feel the future of the beach and the water is in good hands.

Complete outdoors encyclopedia

My friend Vin Sparano has recently written his fifth edition of the Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia, first published in 1972. As anyone who seeks recreation in the great outdoors knows, there have been major changes in all outdoor activities since 1972, and even since the previous edition in 1998. Such things as Kevlar, super-braided lines, four-stroke outboards and the popularity of kayaks. Of course some things never change, like the way to build a safe fire, set up a tent, splice a rope or load shotgun shells.

The book contains 640 pages with many diagrams, charts and photos to make the text easy to understand. One chart of particular interest to fishermen is the relationship of water temperature to the movement of fish. Just about everything that swims in fresh or salt water is covered. If you want to know when summer flounder will start to bite, the chart will tell you they avoid any water colder than 56 degrees and prefer water around 66 degrees.

Hunters will find detailed diagrams on how to properly field dress, skin and butcher a deer. There is even a section on how to debone the animal, which is what I always do. Deboning leaves you with just the meat, taking up less space in the freezer.

You should be able to find the book at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth, or if they don’t carry it, they can order the latest edition of the Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia published by Universe for you.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at