In May 2013, Friends of the Environment partnered with FRIENDS board member Mike Lightbourn, his wife Jennifer Lightbourn and the crew of Lightbourn Family Farms, to undertake a small scale restoration of Crossing Beach. Crossing Beach is the only public access beach in Marsh Harbour, located across from the Albury’s Ferry dock.
The Crossing Beach dune was originally damaged when the road connecting Eastern Shores to Marsh Harbour was pushed through and paved. This made the area more susceptible to the spread of invasive Casuarina and Hawaiian Seagrape and the dune degraded, with the help of wash-throughs during storms.
In 2007, with support from The Nature Conservancy and a number of local partners, FRIENDS completed the first restoration of Crossing Beach. The invasive plants were removed, the dune was reformed and native plants were installed to help stabilize the area.
During the hurricanes from 2007 – 2011 the plants did their job and the new dune held firm, and even grew due to the sand retained by the native plants. However, Hurricane Sandy proved a too strong and while the dune still held, many of the groundcover plants there did not recover.
In order to help prepare for the new restoration, FRIENDS teamed with the Cyber Learning Center to do a clean-up of the area. Then, as part of FRIENDS’ new, “Go Native,” initiative, supported by the GEF Small Grants Program, new plants were installed. They included sea oats, orange geiger trees, sea grapes, railroad vine and sea ox-eye, all wonderful native plants that takes less water and care than non-native plants, replacing those that were lost.
Some new native species including Gumelemi and Dogwood were added to increase the diversity of plants at the beach. These new plants will help to trap and hold sand, building the dune back and preventing further erosion. Lightbourn Farms also created several paths from the parking area to the beach to help protect the new plants.
As a part of the, “Go Native,” program, FRIENDS is also currently offering free native plants to anyone who will remove invasive Hawaiian Seagrape from their home or business. Visit www.FriendsoftheEnvironment.org for more information.