2015-05-07 / Nature

Grass Planting Aids Dune Restoration

By Jack Kelly


Elijah Swain, Terrell Toppa, Tomas Mendez, Ben Trainor and Matthew Sink plant grasses along the dune line at Hazard's Beach. (Photo by Jack Kelly) Elijah Swain, Terrell Toppa, Tomas Mendez, Ben Trainor and Matthew Sink plant grasses along the dune line at Hazard's Beach. (Photo by Jack Kelly) Rogers High School biology and horticultural teacher Scott Dickison recently led a group of student volunteers to Hazard's Beach to continue the dune restoration project. An environmental restoration partnership between the City of Newport, Save The Bay, and the Hazard’s Beach Association has proven successful in efforts to restore sand dunes lost to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Joined by fellow Rogers teacher Brooke Anderson and Save The Bay’s Restoration Specialist Wenley Ferguson, the group prepped the area and planted a total of 2,200 grass plugs supplied by the beach association. Ferguson explained, “This is one of the lowest elevations on this section of the coastline. With beach on one side of Ocean Avenue and salt marshes on the other, it creates an area which is extremely susceptible to flooding during major storms. The restoration of this dune system is a form of green infrastructure, which will protect private property, vulnerable roads, and other city infrastructure.”


Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. The project will also foster the return of valuable habitats for nesting shorebirds, songbirds, and seabirds. Migratory avian species forage on seeds and insects found in shoreline regions during stopovers in the spring and fall migration cycles. The group found a number of interesting tracks in the sand left behind by rabbits, raccoons, deer and other denizens of the area.

One student volunteer, Matthew Sink, has been active in a number of environmental programs as part of his Eagle Scout project. Sink, a member of Newport’s Boy Scout Troop #3, was credited by Ferguson with the planting of over 1,000 grass plugs at the beach. Ferguson noted, “Matthew will also be working with us on another project later this spring. As part of a collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we will be planting marsh grasses at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.”

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