Evergreen trees will help to rebuild dunes at shore

Staff Writer

PLUMSTED – Evergreen trees that are currently being used as Christmas decorations could embody the charity and community feeling of the holiday season well into the new year.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Plumsted Youth for Nature and the Environment (PYNE) will collect discarded pine trees and fir trees and bring them to Bradley Beach, Monmouth County, to support dune restoration efforts.

For many towns along the shore, high mounds of sand that make up dunes help to stave off beach erosion and prevent flooding.

According to PYNE, the discarded trees help to rebuild dunes because the branches bind the sand together. The trees also feed dune grasses as they decompose. However, because the trees decompose, they must be replaced every year.

PYNE Vice President Dominic Esposito said members of the group became interested in dune restoration and the recycling of Christmas trees after superstorm Sandy battered the state’s coastal areas in 2012.

“Sandy reminded us the Jersey Shore is vulnerable to coastal storms,” Esposito said. “Even though we live farther inland, this recycling project gives us an opportunity to help.”

Since superstorm Sandy made landfall and caused more than $71 billion in damage across 24 states, communities like Bradley Beach have been successful in using evergreen trees to help build up depleted dunes.

In 2013, PYNE collected about 170 trees that were recycled. In 2014, the group collected about 150 trees that were recycled.

“Last year some people told us they purchased an artificial tree instead of a real tree, which may have been the cause of the slight decline in donations,” Esposito said, adding that PYNE is hoping to collect at least 100 trees this year.

“The annual tree recycling program helps PYNE with its mission to protect the environment … [and] educates people about the benefits of recycling,” he said. “We hope to continue with the tree collection for as long as Bradley Beach is willing to accept them.”

Undecorated pine trees and fir trees will be collected at the Plumsted maintenance building parking lot at the end of Pine Street on the following dates: Jan. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Jan. 3 from 1-4 p.m.; Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Jan. 10 from 1-4 p.m.; Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Jan. 17 from 9-11 a.m. Volunteers will be available to help bring the donated trees to the collection area.

Residents who are unable to bring a tree to the maintenance building at those times may request a curbside pickup. For more information, send an email to pyne.vicepresident@gmail.com or pyne.president@gmail.com.