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Posted by Mead Krowka | 01.04.2024 | Teen Camps

Recycle Your Tree to Save the Dunes!

At the end of the holiday season, many families wonder how to discard their natural Christmas tree best. Sadly, most trees get discarded to the curb and end up spending their remaining years in landfills. However, there is a better way you can discard your tree that most don’t think of: on the dunes.

What are Sand Dunes?

A colony of Black Skimmers in the dunes of Wrightsville Beach

Along every North Carolina beach, oceanfront sand dunes can be found adjacent to the beach, above the high tide line. Over time, as waves push sand out from the sea, wind blows these particles along the beach, depositing them along the way. When blown, these particles often come to rest when they encounter some form of obstruction, frequently vegetation. Once established, these dunes are an integral part of protection for the island behind it – they slow and block wave energy, as well as shield the internal island from strong winds. These are also an integral part of the ecosystem, harboring unique flora and fauna.

 

Dune Thatching 

Dune erosion is one of the largest threats to our beaches. Without vegetation, the sand has nowhere to be trapped and just continues to be blown by wind.

One such method for restoring dune health is by thatching. This involves covering areas of the dunes most impacted by erosion with branches and plants, allowing for better trapping of wind-blown sand. Discarded Christmas trees are a fantastic way to help with this – their dense branches allow sand to pile up and trap sediment, allowing for native plant species to take root. Within a few months, the trees are covered completely.

 

How Can I Help?

With increased development along our beaches, many of North Carolina’s dunes are at risk. Check your local beach to see where donations for trees can be accepted. Make sure all lights and ornaments are removed, drop them at a designated collection area, and be sure to have beach officials place the tree where it is needed most. For Southeastern North Carolina residents, you can learn more about the tree restoration efforts and donation zones here!

Do it for the dunes! Every tree can make a difference. Next time you’re surfing amazing waves, look out to the dunes and know that your tree will have a beachfront view for years to come.

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