Hope Town is known for its community spirit and for banding together to get a job done. This type of cohesiveness was once again exhibited when replanting several areas of the town’s beach dune line recently.
Hurricane Sandy , the monster storm that hit Abaco last fall, washed away most of the protective sea oats on Hope Town’s dunes. These sea oats had been growing and silently standing their watch on the dunes since being replanted after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. They had been badly damaged during several successive hurricanes but had always managed to come back to stand steady guarding the dune lines.
In 1999 the Hope Town School students were very active in replanting a large amount of these plants in several spots on the island but mostly in front of the Hope Town Lodge where they study the beach and reef for the UNESCO program, SANDWATCH, an educational beach reclamation project the students have been involved in for over ten years. It was disappointing to them that the deep rooted plants were all gone after watching and studying them for so many years.
After the destruction from Sandy, it took many months of tedious beach scraping by bulldozers. The process involves waiting patiently while the sea tosses back sand that was washed onto the reef and sea bottom during a major storm. The sand is then bulldozed back up to recreate a new dune line.
It was then time to replant the sea oats. Hope Town second-home owners, Rolf Sauer and Susan Maxman, took the lead to research sources of plants for the project. E-mails were sent out to involve interested owners in the project and then measuring followed to decide the amount needed for each homeowner’s area. Friends of the Environment helped with the procurement of the 10,000 plants and Clay Wilhoyte packed his plane with the tender young shoots for the flight over from Florida
All parties involved met very early one morning to pick up their precious cargo, gel fertilizer and printed out instructions on their planting and care. Word of the project had gone out on several forms of social media and volunteers from boats, homes and rental properties stood ready to lend a hand. The day was sunny and breezy: the perfect day to renew the town’s dunes.
No group was more excited than the Hope Town students. Led by team captain, Danny Trembley, they listened carefully to instructions, then got right down to business planting their “babies” at their UNESCO SANDWATCH study area on the Hope Town Lodge’s beach. The Hope Town Harbour Lodge and the Hope Town School enjoy a close corporate/school partnership and students were anxious to help the Lodge with their planting of 4,000 new plants.
Eager students were carefully digging holes, placing the gel fertilizer in and then placing the plant and carefully patting sand around the plant making sure the root ball was 8″ into the sand. Planting in straight lines and making sure they did not step on already planted ones, the work was “a breeze” for the students of the award-winning environmental school.
The day was a huge success and everyone who had any part in the process said a silent prayer asking that the dunes once again be allowed to regain their strength and beauty with the graceful sea oats silently and majestically standing guard.