DNREC holds its 30th annual volunteer beach grass planting event Saturday.
Jennifer Pongratz is an environmental scientist at DNREC. She says beach grass helps stabilize dunes by trapping sand.
“Dunes are the first line of defense in coastal storms," she adds. "They also provide habitat, and they provide sand back to the beach after beaches have been eroded.”
Pongratz says this weekend’s beach grass planting will build on recent beach replenishment efforts.
“In Pickering Beach, Kitt Humock Beach and Bowers Beach, we have recently done a beach fill project in which we brought sand back to the beach from an inland borrow site," she said. "We are planting grass where there is no grass in those areas.”
Volunteers will also focus on an area of Delaware Seashore State Park where dunes are low. “We want to put that beach grass in there so it starts collecting more sand again so that the dune will get higher and therefore protect Route 1," said Pongratz.
Pongratz notes the program’s three decades of work is showing results.
“There’s a lot of areas within our state parks that we’re not planting this year," she said. "That’s because grass that we’ve planted in years past has taken, has built those dunes, and they’re healthy and thriving.”
According to officials, roughly 1,200 volunteers are registered for Saturday’s beach grass planting event.