Is a dune, a dune, if there is no grass to anchor it down? Probably not, Lavallette residents have been saying lately, as they worry that a strong nor’easter could level the borough’s brand new 22-foot-high dunes.
While most areas of the island have dune grass taking root in the sand on top of their dune line, Lavallette’s oceanfront is largely bare, save for a few older plants that made it through this year’s beach replenishment project. Officials say that is because Lavallette’s portion of the project lasted until after the planting season, meaning any dune grass that would have been planted would have been at risk of dying off before it could spring the root system that anchors the sand and forms a hard barrier against storm waves.
Council President Anita Zalom said Monday that Lavallette’s dunes would be coming soon: they will be planted between December and March by contractors with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“As we get closer, we will be in contact with municipal officials with the expected planting schedule,” a letter from Army Corps read, as recited by Zalom.
The dune grass will be planted professionally with machinery that will dig holes to the proper depth and deposit each plant in perfect spacing. Because the professional planting is on the way, Lavallette did not participate in an annual dune planting event this year, during which the county provides local communities with dune grass.
“We’re not planting the dune grass this year like most years because it’s such a beautiful setup and we don’t want people to be walking on it,” said Zalom.
Robert Brice, the borough administrator, said residents who want dune grass for their own properties – particularly popular among those along the oceanfront – can pick up plants at the town’s recycling center over the next two weeks.
“Public Works will have dune grass available for private homeowners,” Brice said, encouraging anyone interested in acquiring plants to call DPW at 732-793-7766.