Seaside Park has a new native plant along the west side of the dune line in one location thanks to the generosity of a local family and some elbow grease on the part of a group of volunteers.
Two years ago, the Masiello family donated the plants from their property to be used for dune protection, and a group of about 10 volunteers dug them up and transplanted them into the dunes between 10th and 14th avenues.
“We now have many vibrant, blooming Montauk Daisies on full display on the west side of our dune,” said Bob Hopkins, a local resident who has closely advocated for the best dunes the borough can have for many years.
While the American Beach Grass planted on the east side of the dunes up and down the island following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ beach replenishment project seven years ago, experts have found that while they thrive on the east side of the dune (facing the ocean) the plants have not had the same level of success on the west side of the dune. This is ostensibly because the American Beach Grass species requires fresh, blowing sand to continue to bulk up the root system – easy on the ocean side, but not so much on the more calm west side of the dune. The state Department of Environmental Protection had been planning to experiment with several new species on the east side of the dune in Lavallette this summer, but officials say the effort never seemed to materialize.
True to Seaside Park tradition, residents stepped in to ensure their dune was stronger than ever.
“These plants not only look good but, more importantly, provide an anchor for the sand on the west side of our dune by taking the place of the American Beach Grass which is dying off due to lack of blowing sand to stimulate its growth,” said Hopkins.
Montauk Daisies are sometimes referred to as the “Nippon daisy” plant, a nod to its native growing habitat along the coastline of Japan. The species, however, was specifically naturalized to become part of dune systems in New Jersey and New York, and can grow into a shrub at a height of about 40-inches with 3-inch wide flowers. The flowers are usually white, but can also be seen in shades of yellow and purple.