Volunteer plants beach grass on Spectacle Island's West Beach.
Beach Grass Planting
In April 2009, nearly 400 volunteers contributed 1,965 work hours as they planted more than 80,000 culms (stems) of beach grass on Spectacle Island. This event was one of the largest volunteer efforts ever on the Boston Harbor Islands. According to DCR's coastal ecologist, Heather Warchalowsi, planting beach grass along two different dune systems of Spectacle Island provided a fun learning experience for people of all ages while affording additional protection to the capped landfill system on the island. American Beachgrass (Ammophilia breviligulata) is the most common dune plant along the Atlantic coast and is important as a dune stabilizer and as wildlife habitat.
The beach grass plantings on Spectacle Island are not quite the same as plantings on a natural dune. In a natural dune, the grasses depend upon the adjacent beach for a constant input of sand to stimulate stem and rhizome growth. In contrast, Spectacle Island is a capped landfill, and two sites planted are separated from their beaches by a riprap slope or stone wall. Scientists will be watching over time to see how the resulting lack of sand deposits will affect beach grass growth. Stay tuned. So far, the beach grass is doing well... take a look!