Coastal Habitat Restoration

dune grass planting

The UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team is currently engaged in dune restorationpublic education, and outreach spanning the towns of Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury, Mass., and Seabrook and Hampton, NH, where it works closely with the Conservation Commissions in each town. The Commissions help to identify suitable areas for dune restoration, and facilitate public meetings and training the team conducts in the community. In addition, the team are broadens its reach by engaging local and regional school groups to participate in the restoration and educational activities.

teaching students

The UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team has a very grass-roots approach to building resiliency in the dunes – planting native plants, including American Beachgrass, seaside goldenrod, beach pea, and sea rocket, bayberry, and beach plum, among others. The team installs sand fencing in strategic locations and posts educational signage, particularly around areas being actively restored. At all sites, the dunes are surveyed to document sand gains and losses. There over 25 permanent survey transects spanning the three Massachusetts towns and each one is measured quarterly. In addition, there are ongoing experiments, including 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.

adults dune grass planting

Over the past two years, UNH Coastal Habitat Restoration Team has engaged over 1000 students and 30 teachers in dune restoration and resiliency work.  All this work has been funded by three grants: 1-the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Green Infrastructure Grant, awarded to the Town of Newbury, 2- the Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant (partnered with National Wildlife Federation), and 3- the 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.

More information about dune restoration

fact sheets on reducing coastal erosion & storm damage


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