Help plant 30k beachgrass plants this Saturday at Island Beach State Park

     A Seaside Park dune in June 2015. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks

    A Seaside Park dune in June 2015. (Photo: Justin Auciello/for NewsWorks

    State officials and environmental organizations will welcome volunteers to help secure Island Beach State Park’s protective dune system with an extensive beachgrass planting this Saturday.

    According to a state Department of Environmental Protection release, the rain or shine event is slated from 9:30 a.m. until noon.

    “The annual program to plant protective American Beachgrass plants at Island Beach State Park serves several important purposes,” said DEP Division of Parks and Forestry Director Mark Texel. “Not only do these plants help strengthen the critical dune system, they beautify the beach and bring together volunteers for a good cause.”

    By early afternoon, 30,000 plants will begin settling in the park’s extensive dune system. According to the release, as the grass grows, roots form the core of a dune’s stability, and the blades above the surface trap additional sand and allow the dune to grow higher.

    “Dune grasses are vital to protecting the island because they hold the dunes together with their web-like root systems,” added Jen Clayton, park manager at Island Beach State Park. “The blades of the grass catch sand during high wind events such as nor’easters, and help to grow the dune, adding even more protection. The park has been concentrating on fortifying vulnerable areas around the numerous paths to the beach, to keep public access open without compromising dune stability.”

    Participating organizations include AmeriCorps New Jersey, the Barnegat Bay Partnership, the Friends of Island Beach State Park, and others.

    The current NOAA forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies and temperatures around 60 degrees.

    Volunteers will meet at the park’s Ocean Bathing Area 1. Volunteers can sign up when they arrive at the park.

    Registrants will be assigned a specific part of the park. Volunteers are also asked to bring a pole or shovel.

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