Lavallette is in line to receive 17,000 dune grass plants as part of an annual distribution effort by Ocean County, however officials debated whether the plants would be most useful on the oceanfront or the bayside.
While dune plantings, which are completed by volunteers on an organized day, have traditionally been at the oceanfront, state officials have found that the most common dune grass plantings do not thrive on the western side of the ocean dune. It is theorized that the species, American dune grass, needs fresh, blowing sand naturally added each year to help the plant multiply and set down its roots as an anchor system. On the east side of the dune, where winds carry sand landward, the plants have done well, but on the west side of the dune, some have died or become sparse.
The state Department of Environmental Protection notified Lavallette officials that they were planning to experiment with new dune grass species on the west side of the ocean dune this season, however the effort never seemed to materialize. Councilwoman Joanne Filippone said the “intention” of the 17,000 new dune grass plants was to help shore up the bayfront.
“I think we need to be very mindful of what’s going on at the bay,” said Filippone. “It’s been let go for many years, and Teddy [Golubowski, Public Works Superintendent] has been concerned about people walking on the dunes.”
Council President Anita Zalom said she did not believe the plants were intended for one area of town, and could possibly be split between different areas in need at the bay and the ocean. Filippone, however, pushed for more protection on the bay side.
“The type of dune grass they put on the east side [of the ocean dune] is doing well because it thrives in new sand,” she said. “It probably doesn’t pay to plant it on the west side of the dune because that’s what we already have. They never planted the new trial type, so we need to find a species of grass that will work better on the ocean.”
Borough officials will soon decide on a location for the plants and announce a date when volunteers can help with the plantings.