Nothing brings in the sights and scents of the holidays better than a live Christmas tree. But once the holiday is over, residents are often left wondering exactly what they should do with the now dried, needle-dropping mess.
Have no fear, the folks at Fort Macon State Park have the perfect idea – put it to use somewhere else along the coast. Each year, the site gathers about 1,500 donated trees to help stabilize the sand dunes around the park. Park officials position trees along damaged sand dune lines in areas where the beach is eroding. The trees help reestablish sand dunes where the dunes have been disturbed by either human action or storms. Properly placed trees trap windblown sand, which begins the process of dune building. In turn, the reestablished dunes are a natural way to buffer coastal resources, property and infrastructure against the forces of erosion from hurricanes and other storms
Sand dunes not only contribute to the backdrop along the Crystal Coast, but also serve more vital functions such as preventing the shifting of sand caused by frequent winds, waves and tides or foot traffic. Such shifts lead to erosion, losing sand, or accretion, gaining sand. The Christmas tree program aims to create an economical alternative to build dunes that will eventually help reduce wind speed and allow for the necessary sand accumulation to stabilize vegetation.
Placement is key to finding success and Fort Macon makes every effort to ensure that the trees are properly lined and buried along damaged areas, however, some areas have experienced failed results with Christmas tree restoration efforts. In order to prevent such issues, North Carolina recommends that residents take their trees to established recycle programs such as Fort Macon’s, instead of attempting to place them on the beach themselves.
The state park accepts bare residential trees that are free from all decorations including tree stands and tinsel through mid-January. There will be signs at Fort Macon directing traffic to drop-off stations at the bathhouse parking lot. If interested in volunteering to assist with fence efforts along damaged dunes, contact the park at 252-726-3775.