Before tossing out your Christmas tree after the holiday season, consider donating it to a good cause: a healthy dune ecosystem.
Ocean County’s Island Beach State Park will accept Christmas trees free of lights and ornaments on Saturday, Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the A-23 parking lot.
Christmas trees help build dunes by capturing sand that is pushed by northeasterly winds during coastal storms, according to coastal ecologist Dominick Solazzo.
“Windblown sand becomes obstructed by the fencing and deposited as its velocity slows. The combination of dune fencing and natural vegetation adds the strength of resistance to the dune-like rebar to concrete,” Solazzo said in a 2014 WHYY interview. “As easily as a healthy and well-managed dune grabs the sand, it also easily resists any erosional pressure put on it by the same force that helps it grow.”
He said a special relationship forms over time, resulting in a greener and taller dune grass as the trees provide nitrogen and other nutrients to feed the grass and also store moisture during the summer months.
For more information about the Island Beach State Park Christmas tree collection, contact Island Beach Nature Programs at 732-793-1315.