Thursday’s warm temperatures and sunshine provided the perfect backdrop for the ’s first spring planting project of the year.
In an ongoing effort to restore the storm ravaged Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays, volunteers from Southampton Town Parks and Recreation, the Group for the East End and Southampton High School students planted 8,000 seedlings of American beach grass, in hopes of anchoring Tiana’s dunes and preventing further erosion.
Back in March, Southampton's Parks and Recreation department deposited 6,600 cubic yards of new sand on Tiana Beach, replacing the dozens of feet of dune that were washed away over the winter.
“This area was heavily effected by a late December storm,” explained Anita Wright, an environmental educator at Group for the East End. “The town has since replaced the sand, so now the new beach grass will act as a net, with the roots anchoring the dune. Its taken a lot of hands to restore this dune and get these plants in the ground.”
Wright said that the roots will grow very quickly and Tiana Beach's summer visitors will see a big difference.
In late winter, Wright reached out to Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Superintendent Chris Bean to inquire about the beaches and parks most in need of planting and restoration this spring and she learned Tiana Beach was the top priority.
Doing their part to save one of Hampton Bays’ natural treasures, 50 students pitched-in for several hours of digging and planting in the dune. Organized by Greg Metzger, a teacher of oceanography and aquaculture at Southampton High School, the young environmentalists were enthusiastic about participating in the project.
“I am excited to come back here in August to see the progress and the impact we have made,” said Gabriella Cavanagh, a Southampton student and oceanography club member.
“Two years ago, I used to come here every day for lunch, but I remembered there being grass,” said Jordan Canino, a Southampton student volunteer. “When I saw how much the beach had been destroyed, I wanted to do my part.”
According to Wright, through fundraising and donations, the Group for the East End purchased the plants and soil needed for the spring planting projects, however for Tiana Beach project, the town of Southampton helped to buy some of the beach grass.
The Group for the East End is a nonprofit conservation group that works to protect and restore the environment through education and citizen action projects. This spring they will be sponsoring several other planting events and need volunteers.
To participate in upcoming planting events in East Hampton, Southport, Aquebogue and Southampton, contact Anita Wright at 631-537-1400 or visit www.eastendenvironment.org.