Carolina Beach recycling Christmas trees to shore up dune systems

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(File photo by Hannah Levya)

CAROLINA BEACH — The town of Carolina Beach will be collecting Christmas trees throughout January and recycling them to help protect the area’s dune system.

This year, the town of Carolina Beach will join the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation to help rebuild dunes. The trees are spaced apart and anchored in areas along the dunes where they will naturally accumulate a layer of sand. Last year, the group helped ‘plant’ about 70 to 80 trees, which were nearly undetectable after six months as new dunes grew on top of them.

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Near-buried Christmas trees. (File photo by Hannah Levya)

The dunes are endangered by both weather and politics. The Carolina Beach shoreline – like much of the southeastern coast – was hit by Hurricane Matthew in early October, and the town declared a state of emergency, calling for non-residents to evacuate. The damage to the dunes and beach was not as serious as feared, but still came after the end of the funding cycle for Army Corps of Engineers beach renourishment that concluded in April. This renourishment project is part of the constant battle against erosion of the beach.

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Renourishment at Carolina Beach at the beginning of the latest cycle. (File photo by Ben Brown)

On December 16, President Barack Obama signed into law the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, providing another cycle of federal funding for New Hanover County beaches. However, state and local funding are still uncertain. Local groups have lobbied for dedicated state funding, meanwhile Carolina Beach and New Hanover County have been without an interlocal agreement on how to share the local funding burden since June of 2015.

The Surfrider dune rebuilding will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at the Periwinkle Ave. beach access location. The rebuilding is staffed by volunteers; those interested should visit the Facebook event page or contact the Surfrider Foundation at volunteercoordinator@capefear.surfrider.org. You can watch video of last year’s rebuilding here.

Starting on Monday, Jan. 9, the town of Carolina Beach will collect Christmas trees curbside. Collections will occur on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Jan. 30. There is no need to call for a pick-up, according to the town, but officials request trees left for collection be stripped of decorations and lighting.