Community-based Sand Dune Restoration

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A project team from the University of New Hampshire is actively working with communities throughout the region to restore sand dune systems

Why are sand dunes important?

  • Dunes improve "coastal resilience," acting as a barrier to storm surge and flooding, protecting adjacent property and infrastructure.
  • Dunes serve as significant wildlife habitat, including habitat for endangered species.
  • Sand dunes provide a sand source that nourishes eroding beaches and feeds nearshore sand bars during storms.

Restoring Dunes with Vegetation

  • Sand dunes are a constantly changing system. However, planting beachgrass and other native dune plants in areas where vegetation is scarce can help the natural building processes of dunes.
  • Dune vegetation traps wind-blown sand and rebuilds the dunes over time.
  • Areas where dune vegetation is destroyed (e.g., walkways) can funnel storm energy which can damage property and infrastructure.
  • Replanting in degraded areas can help rebuild the dunes and their capacity to reduce the impacts of storms. It is important to use designated pathways to allow these areas to grow and rebuild.

Sand fencing

  • The installation of sand fencing helps add sand volume quickly to the dunes. The fencing captures wind-blown sand while directing beach traffic to limit damage to dune plants.
  • Coastal communities are critical partners in our sand dune restoration efforts. We strive to engage local residents in all stages of our projects, including community meetings and on the ground restoration work.

Project Locations:

  1. Hampton and Seabrook, NH
  2. Newbury, MA
  3. Newbury, Newburyport & Salisbury, MA

Get involved!

Volunteer opportunities are available for people of all ages. See the Coastal Research Volunteer opportunities calendar for current opportunities.


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 of American beachgrass (photo by Alyson Eberhardt)
American beachgrass
(photo by Alyson Eberhardt)

Photo of interns planting beachgrass. Example of sand fencing (photo by Natalie Feldsine)
Interns planting beachgrass in an example of sand fencing
(photo by Natalie Feldsine)