It is February and Valentine’s Day is looming, but the Christmas Spirit of Giving lives on along the shores of Long Beach, N.Y.
Volunteers arranged nearly 3,000 recycled Christmas trees donated by residents and the local Home Depot along the beach with the intended purpose of restoring the protective dunes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy significantly affected the Long Beach locality by washing away about half a million cubic yards of sand, resulting in an elevation loss of three to five feet in some areas along the beach. Many residents were left dangerously exposed and vulnerable to future storms.
The plan to place the trees in the dunes was proposed by Long Beach residents and approved by city officials. According to the New York Times, “the trees are supposed to catch sand blown by the wind, until gradually the dunes grow up around them.”
Volunteers positioned the trees with their tops facing toward the surf. Officials hope this placement will be the most optimal for catching sand blowing from all directions.
Naturally growing grasses usually prevent and anchor sand from blowing or washing away, but the significant loss of sand has stalled the growth of grass. The recycled Christmas trees will take the place of the lost grasses to encourage the revitalization of natural dunes and plant growth.
States prone to hurricanes, such as the Carolinas and Florida, have been using Christmas trees to restore dunes for years. Additional localities in New York and New Jersey are also recycling Christmas trees to reinforce beaches damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Damaged dunes take two to three years to become fully re-established.
Long Beach residents hope to establish a tradition of adding more recycled Christmas trees every year to keep building up the dunes that act as their first line of defense against inclement weather, and they’re off to a great start.
We hope Long Beach and communities like it continue to heal and be a shining example of the impact and importance of recycling.