Locals plant sea oats for school, beach erosion defense

Locals plant sea oats for school, beach erosion defense

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -The battle against beach erosion took another step forward Friday as an army of students and volunteers dug in and planted more than 3,000 sea oats on the beach in Biloxi as part of the EPA’s Gulf of Mexico program.

"We have these beautiful Mississippi beaches, and when the wind turns to the south, these sea oats will trap the sand as it comes toward the shore and Highway 90,” said Troy Pierce, chief scientist for the EPA’S Gulf of Mexico Program.

Pierce is leading this project and getting lots of help from the Harrison County Sand Beach Authority, The Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center, and 11th and 12th-grade botany students from Gulfport High School.

“It started off with our school project, and it was really cool to create a diorama and find solutions to stopping beach erosion and then to come out here and actually put it all together,” said Jourdan Elward, Gulfport High School junior.

Some sea oats were planted four months ago, and lots of sand has built up around them. The hope is the same thing will happen in the next four months with these newly-planted oats, just in time for the height of storm season.

"It’s so important that we get these plants in the ground before storm season to protect us,” said Tammy McKenna, Gulfport High botany teacher.

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