Replanting Effort Is Restoring Estuary’s Lost Dunes

The Takeaway: Volunteers fortify sand dunes against storm surge and erosion with help from the New Hampshire Coastal Management Program.

Recently 78 adults and 132 K-12 students transplanted 15,000 plants to build up New Hampshire dunes that will eventually strengthen storm and flood protection for the Hampton-Seabrook estuary, which has lost 86 percent of its dunes since 1776. New Hampshire Sea Grant led the outreach and planting efforts with funding from the New Hampshire Coastal Management Program.

These dune grass plantings are needed to anchor the dunes, which have been worn away by storms, winds, waves, and the aftereffects of development. Sea Grant began the effort in 2015 with a high-profile dune grass garden at Hampton Beach State Park that raises local awareness and provides plants for volunteer dune-strengthening projects.

That awareness is growing. Through the Adopt-A-Spot program, the Hampton Conservation Commission planted dune grasses at Plaice Cove, a quiet beach flanked by a residential neighborhood. Recently the garden’s greenery was made available to private landowners, three of whom have used the plantings to strengthen their beachfront properties against storm-driven floods and erosion. Funding from the state coastal management program aided all the efforts described. (2019)

More Information: Dune restoration project

Partners: Hampton Conservation Commission, New Hampshire Coastal Management Program, New Hampshire Sea Grant Extension