Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't Tread on Me

August is here and timeless visions of the beach are happily upon us if we're lucky. Diving through the surf, walking along the edge, sand between the toes, umbrellas listing in the breeze -- all of it great stuff.

Yet one thing I've noticed lately is a large number of people seem to have forgotten how fragile yet important dunes are. I am surprised to see people walking over the dunes, allowing their kids to jump around on them or dig into them, or allowing their dogs to tramp all over them. All of these things erode the dune and crush, kill, and otherwise damage many plants especially the all important dune grasses.

Professor Stephen Broome of North Carolina State University notes "the value of dunes and their fragile nature are often misunderstood or not appreciated. Excessive use often upsets the natural balance, damaging the vegetation and deteriorating the dune system. One of the earliest uses of dunes in North Carolina, which resulted in considerable damage, was overgrazing by livestock, including cattle, horses, and sheep. Today, shoreline development and the pounding of dunes by feet and vehicles pose serious threats to dune vegetation and dune stability. Intensive beach use increases the need to restore, construct, protect, and manage dunes."

So please when you enjoy your favorite beach, don't forget to have as little impact as possible on the dunes.

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