Coastal Habitat Restoration

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The UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team is currently engaged in dune restoration, public education, and outreach spanning the towns of Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury, Massachusetts and Seabrook and Hampton, New Hampshire where we work closely with the Conservation Commissions in each town. The Commissions help us to identify suitable areas for dune restoration, and facilitate public meetings and training we conduct with the community. In addition, we are broadening our reach by engaging local and regional school groups to participate in the restoration and educational activities.

The UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team has a very grass-roots approach to building resiliency in the dunes – essentially, planting native plants, including American Beachgrass, seaside goldenrod, beach pea, and sea rocket, bayberry, beach plum, among others. We also install sand fencing in strategic locations, and post educational signage, particularly around areas we’re actively restoring. At all our sites, we actively survey the dune to document sand gains and losses. We have over 25 permanent survey transects spanning the three MA towns and we measure each one quarterly. In addition, we are conducting some experiments, which includes mapping the effects of dune die-off (caused by a pathogenic nematode worm) and investigating the differing ability of native plants to trap and accrete sand in the dunes.


Alyson Eberhardt, Ph.D.
Coastal Ecosystems Specialist,
NH Sea Grant &
UNH Cooperative Extension
(603) 862-6709

Gregg Moore, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor, UNH

David Burdick, Ph.D.
Interim Director, Jackson Estuarine Lab
Research Associate Professor, UNH

Photo by UNHCE

Photo by UNHCE

Photo by UNHCE

Over the past 2 years, we have engaged over 1000 students and well over 30 teachers in our dune restoration and resiliency work – and we hope to keep those totals growing!  All this work has been funded by three grants: a Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Green Infrastructure Grant awarded to the Town of Newbury, a Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant (partnered with National Wildlife Federation, who is the recipient of the award), and NH Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program Coastal Resilience grant.

The UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team works with undergraduates and interns, including NH Sea Grant Doyle Fellows and the Student Conservation Association.