Newbury, MA Dune Restoration

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The Newbury, MA sand dunes are a critical natural barrier for protecting the coastline from erosion and flooding associated with storms and sea level rise. With funding from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the town of Newbury has partnered with the University of New Hampshire on a sand dune restoration project to increase the ability of the Newbury dunes to protect the coast. Led by UNH Research Associate Professor, Dr. Gregg Moore, the project team and community volunteers have been working together to plant dunes, install fencing and collect data that will help build the Newbury dunes and inform future dune restoration efforts.

Dune Revegetation

Sand dune vegetation plays an important role in trapping sand to build dunes. In addition, the roots of dune plants assist inanchoring the dune in place. Seeds were harvested from native plants within the Newbury dunes and propogated at UNH's Jackson Estuarine Laboratory and by horticulture students at Dover High School to provide plants for revegetation efforts. In addition, plants were purchased from a local nursery as well as donated from a local property owner to provide the volume needed to plant the restoration area. Native species used in the restoration project include American beach grass, seaside goldenrod, sea rocket and beach pea.

We worked with over 125 volunteers including local citizens, regional school children, NH Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension's Coastal Research Volunteer program as well as graduate and undergraduate students from UNH to revegetate the Newbury dunes. Over 30,000 plugs of beach grass were established, approximately 6,000 goldenrod, and apprroximately 1000 sea rocket and beach pea were planted between Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.

Sand Fencing

Sand fencing was erected to assist in capuring sand to build up the dunes, as well as to protect newly planted vegetation. Volunteers assisted in installing over 1000 linear feet of sand fencing in Newbury.

Dune profiles

Using laser level survey equipment, the project team with help from volunteers, takes measurements of the profile of the dune (i.e., in a line from the land to the ocean). By collecting this information over time, we can understand the change in shape of the dunes, and gains/losses in sand volume, data collection points were established throughout the dune system.

Photo of local volunteers assisting in an early planting effort

photo of project team members and volunteers installing sand fencing to assist in rebuilding the dunes

photo of graduate student, Jill Bartelotta, and UNH Professor, David Burdick, collecting dune elevation data

graph depicting actual dune transect data, dune height above the shoreline vs. dune distance from benchmark


photo of dune restoration efforts in Newbury, Massachusetts