Dune Restoration and Research

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Fast Facts: What is dune restoration? Photograph of several volunteers with buckets full of dune grass ready to plant. Purpose is to illustrate the volunteer dune restoration experience.

Dunes are extremely important to coastal resilience. Compared to their neighbor, the beach, they are sometimes overlooked, but they are a vibrant and critical ecosystem in their own right. Dunes provide a sand source to nourish eroding beaches, protect inland infrastructure by acting as a barrier to storm surge and flooding, and serve as wildlife habitat. When dunes become degraded, they lose some of their ability to play some of these important roles.

The Coastal Research Volunteers team up with UNH's Coastal Habitat Restoration Team, which works to restore and maintain healthy dunes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts through a very grass-roots approach. Along with the Restoration Team, volunteers plant native grasses, install sand fencing, post eduational signage, and actively survey the dunes to document sand gains and losses. Volunteers are also active participants in research on dune resilience and restoration methods.


Volunteer Description: What do dune restoration volunteers do?

Volunteer Experience: Most dune restoration volunteers contribute by joining one of our many beachgrass planting events, which happen every year in the spring and fall. But there are lots of ways to be involved, like helping with sand fencing, attending community planning meetings, maintaining the beachgrass Common Garden, and removing invasive species. Opportunities will be advertised locally in coastal communities and in the Coastal Research Volunteers newsletter.

Time Frame: You are welcome to contribute as much as you are able! Most restoration events last for a few hours.

Project Impacts: To see the impacts of the Coastal Habitat Restoration Team's work, you don't have to look farther than the beaches we work on. In addition to planting tens of thousands of beachgrass plants, the Restoration Team has established 25 permanent dune survey transects, a community garden of dune grass used for restoration, and works closely with coastal Conservation Commissions to facilitate public meetings. The Team has worked with over 1000 students and 30 teachers in dune restoration work; building coastal resilience is truly a community effort!


  • Interest in improving coastal resilience and strengthening coastal communities


  • Meet people from your community with similar interests
  • Opportunities to engage with local community groups, Conservation Commissions, and others involved in coastal communities
  • Contribute to ongoing efforts to improve our understanding of beach resilience

Questions? For more information or if you would like to join the Coastal Habitat Restoration Team, contact Alyson Eberhardt.


Upcoming Opportunities: Join our dune restoration and research effort!

The 2018 dune restoration has wrapped up - sign up for our newsletter or contact Wells to find out about opportunities to help with dune restoration in 2019.

Are you a coastal property owner looking to restore native dunes on your property? Contact Wells for more information about how to access free beachgrass and other native species from our dune plant common garden.


Learn More: Links, resources, and partner organizations

Want to learn more? Read all about the Coastal Habitat Restoration Team's efforts in Newbury, MA, check out this fact sheet for homeowners on reducing coastal erosion and storm damage, and read through this article in the Seacoast Online about the Coastal Habitat Restoration Team's work on the dunes in Seabrook.

Finally, watch this fantastic short video made by UNH documenting a school field trip planting beachgrass on Plum Island, Massachusetts!


Photograph of many volunteers working in a dune restoration area that has been roped off. Purpose is to illustrate the dune restoration volunteer community experience.


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