Volunteers use Christmas trees to rebuild NJ dunes

January 19, 2013 8:19:25 PM PST
The holiday is long gone, but student volunteers from the Peddie School were in the Christmas spirit Saturday as they moved 1,000 donated Christmas trees.

The trees were being moved into shallow trenches along the beach at Island Beach State Park. The idea is to help rebuild the dunes, almost half of which were destroyed in Superstorm Sandy.

"All that shrubbery that's involved in a Christmas tree catches a lot of sand, so this just gives a little jump start to dune growth," said Ray Bukowski, park manager.

"We already have so many Christmas trees in the waste stream. There's Christmas trees that should be recycled and are not going to a landfill so this just makes perfect sense," said Katie Barnett, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The trees were donated from all over the state. Organizers were hoping to collect 1,000 but they got four times that.

"We've been here for over 30 years, coming to this park. Now we feel it's a contribution we've made and it's still going to be a part of us," said Richie Geist.

It won't take all that long for the trees to trap the sand and cover over and when it does, the park will have new dunes to replace the ones swept away.

"In two years the dunes won't be as high as these but they'll be building up and we'll be planting dune grass in here to supplement," said Jim Merritt, Sedge Island Education Program.

The high school volunteers were excited about helping out and who better to help on this project than a student whose last name is beach?

"I told my dad that's actually part of why I'm here. I said dad, 'They're rebuilding the beach' and he said 'Dude, you gotta do it for the family!'" said Kieran Beach.

"It's devastating. A lot of people lost their houses, the sand dunes are devastated as well. I mean we all want to do our part and help out. It's our state," said Molly Chertkov.

Organizers still have another 3,000 trees to drop on the beach so there will be another event on Feb. 2nd.