SEA BRIGHT:Hurricane Sandy destroyed the borough’s dune system, but with its importance to the safety of the area in mind, it is being rebuilt.
“We need the dunes to protect all of us,” Sea Bright Dune Committee member Heather Bedenko said. “They are our first line of defense.”
The Sea Bright Dune Committee was formed by the Sea Bright Council in January and is made up of borough residents who wanted to help with the dunes, Bedenko said.
“We got involved to make sure we have the best dunes possible,” she said.
The group’s first dune rebuilding effort actually occurred before it was officially formed with a massive dune planting in December with the help of donated plants. A second planting was held in March through fundraising efforts with local garden clubs.
Now the committee is looking at another major project that will include the building of dedicated paths through the dunes.
“With the dunes we had before, there were just zig-zag paths through them,” Bedenko said.
The plan is to purchase “roll out decking material” with split rail fencing that will create straight paths through the dunes in an effort to stop people from stepping on them. Bedenko said it would cost about $12,000 to create the paths at six access points with the “heaviest foot traffic.”
The project will also include the planting of more dune grass and signage asking people to stay off the dunes for a total project cost of about $18,000.
“The council has to go into the Beautification Trust, which has money to handle this project,” Bedenko said.
The council has given the committee the OK to move forward with the project which should begin in the next month or two.
“The committee will work on fundraising, grant applications and partnerships with environmental groups over the coming months so that we can become self-sustaining financially but we need these things now to protect and maintain what has already been done,” Bedenko said in a letter to the council.
Future plans for the Sea Bright Dune Committee include fundraising for future dune and beach plum plantings and the creation of more dune crossovers. Bedenko said the committee is reaching out to condominium associations to try to get additional funding to build dune crossovers near their homes.
She said dunes have to be planted for three consecutive years in order to create a strong system.
“We have to order 25,000 more culms to plant in December,” she said. “We also need to plant beach plums in the future, because they help make the dunes stronger.”
The roots of the dunes hold the sand in place and the plants catch the sand which helps build the dunes higher.
She said public education about staying off the dunes is also key to the committee’s mission.
“Dunes can deal with almost anything except for people standing on them,” she said.
For more information about the Sea Bright Dune Committee, contact Bedenko at firstname.lastname@example.org