Plants Battle Mother Nature's Fury - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/20/03

Plants Battle Mother Nature's Fury

Keeping the sand on the beach and off Highway 90 is a constant battle. So conservationists are planting vegetation in three high use areas of the beach to keep the sand intact. A similar experiment worked successfully in Pass Christian.

"There was dunes built, I think in 1996, by soil conservation service there. They put in some and those dunes are still there and working fine. The sand's not blowing onto 90 as bad and over 90 as bad," Conservationist Tyree Harrington said.

Harrington says the blowing sand attaches itself to the plants, creating dunes that tropical storms washed away last year.

"The root system is still based there and what happens from there is as they grow. The sand gets against them and they grow... and keep growing and growing and growing."

The plants are grown in Louisiana and are native to coastal sandy areas.

"They're very cold hardy. They tolerate storms, storm surges from the gulf where there's tropical storms. The dunes can be removed, but these are deep rooted grasses, and even though the top may be removed in a storm, the roots remain in most cases in the soil and they proliferate their selves in time," Gary Fine of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center said.

Beach director Bobby Weaver says the vegetation is a great erosion fighter, and it spruces up the beach too.

"It helps buffer in storm season, hurricanes, tropical storms. It absorbs that wave action which, ultimately if it gets high enough, could go inland and effect the roadway, possibly the seawall. The beach is there to protect the seawall as well."

Weaver says they can't control the weather, but he says the plants will help counteract the damage Mother Nature leaves behind.

byMarcia Hill

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