Dune Building

Scott Sherrill - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Old Christmas Trees Can Build New Dunes

Published in the Coastal Review: 

ATLANTIC BEACH — The holidays may be over but that evergreen tree that symbolized the season can now be put to a new use, improving the health of the dune system on a nearby beach.

Natural Christmas trees with all decorations and lighting removed are being collected now through Jan. 22 in both parking lots at Fort Macon State Park, 2303 East Fort Macon Road. The state park began collecting trees this season on Dec. 26.

Several beach towns along the North Carolina coast also collect trees for use in rebuilding dunes, but not all coastal communities or state parks accept trees, so if your community isn’t listed below, be sure to check before hauling off the tannenbaum.

Paul Branch, a Fort Macon National Park ranger, places a recycled Christmas tree on a dune at the park. The rangers use the trees to catch sand and rebuild the dunes. Photo: Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom, U.S. Marine Corps

Paul Branch, a Fort Macon National Park ranger, places a recycled Christmas tree on a dune at the park. The rangers use the trees to catch sand and rebuild the dunes. Photo: Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom, U.S. Marine Corps

Fort Macon’s repurposing program has continued for more than 50 years. Park Ranger Paul Branch explained that Fort Macon has been collecting natural Christmas trees since the winter of 1964.

“At that time, the park staff was doing a lot of work for erosion control and someone thought to go get some loads of Christmas trees from the town dump after that Christmas. The trees worked very well, so they repeated it the next year. Eventually they moved on to having public appeals to bring Christmas trees to the park and we have been doing it ever since,” Branch said. “I have been here 35 years and have participated each year. It is amazing how well it works in just a short time. We get a baby dune line started and keep adding additional layers of trees on top in successive years until a full sand dune line is established.”

Fort Macon Superintendent Randy Newman added that Christmas trees have been used to repair damage to sand dunes caused by foot traffic and strong winds and to prevent the natural material from going into landfills. The trees collected at the park are placed in areas where vegetation no longer exists to hold the sand in place.

There are other benefits as well.

“The trees provide cover for the birds during the winter, and the birds deposit seeds while in the trees. The trees quickly decompose, providing nutrients for the seeds. The seeds germinate and vegetation is reclaimed,” Newman continued. “When we have hurricanes that damage our dunes system we can lay the trees out in rows and they catch the sand as the wind blows it down the beach. Works better than a sand fence.”

Branch detailed the process the rangers go through to get the trees ready and in the dunes. “About 1,500 trees are dropped off annually,” he said. “We have a couple of designated drop-off points at our bathhouse and fort area parking lots, and people just pile them up.”

Then the trees are taken out on the beach and placed where needed.

“This is the labor-intensive part because we have to load up four-wheel-drive vehicles and drive them over near where we want to place them,” Branch continued. “Then they have to be dragged one by one to the point we are going to place them in a row along the top of a dune we want to build up or lining a blowout hollow that we want to fill in.”

Trees placed in areas where the wind or tide over-wash could displace them are secured in place with twine and stakes.

Cub scouts from Troop No. 130 Morehead City placing trees in the sand dunes at Fort Macon State Park. Photo: Randy Newman

Cub scouts from Troop No. 130 Morehead City placing trees in the sand dunes at Fort Macon State Park. Photo: Randy Newman

“We are sometimes fortunate to have Boy Scout groups or other volunteer groups to help drag them into place,” Branch said.

To volunteer or find out more about Fort Macon’s program, call 252-726-3775.

While other parks, such as Fort Fisher State Park in Kure Beach, Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head and Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro, have collected trees for natural resource projects in the past, officials at these parks said in response to emails that they are not collecting trees this year.

Towns Collecting Trees

Some coastal towns, including Pine Knoll Shores and Emerald Isle, have also begun collecting natural Christmas trees for use in dune rebuilding.

In Pine Knoll Shores, trees may be left at any time in the parking lot at the Iron Steamer Beach Access. The town’s public works staff will relocate the trees to the dunes.

A Pine Knoll Shores town truck is used to carry trees to a spot along the dunes. Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores

A Pine Knoll Shores town truck is used to carry trees to a spot along the dunes. Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores

Pine Knoll Shores Town Manager Brian Kramer explained that years ago a few residents participated in Fort Macon’s Christmas tree recycling program.

“Here in Pine Knoll Shores, the Public Services Department workers, who themselves installed the 4.5 miles of sand fencing in town, suggested we invite our citizens to dispose of their trees right here in town for our own dunes,” Kramer explained. “Using our social media we passed the word and arranged a pickup point at the Iron Steamer public beach access.  Our Public Service Department personnel then moved the collected trees to areas of the town’s beach strand.”

Kramer said the program has been successful. “Each year we seem to get more trees, and each year Mother Nature does her job. The trees do an incredible job of collecting blown sand. Just as with the sand fences, the predominant southwest winds cover the trees over time and our storm surge protection is enhanced.”

For questions about the tree recycling program in Pine Knoll Shores, call 252-247-4353.

In Pine Knoll Shores, Christmas trees may be dropped off in the southwest corner of the Iron Steam Public Beach Access for use in building dunes in town. Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores

In Pine Knoll Shores, Christmas trees may be dropped off in the southwest corner of the Iron Steam Public Beach Access for use in building dunes in town. Photo courtesy Pine Knoll Shores

Frank Rush, town manager in Emerald Isle, said natural Christmas trees are being collected as part of that town’s weekly yard debris collection service. Also, residents with oceanfront property are encouraged to place their natural Christmas trees in the dunes to promote sand accretion. They are welcome to collect old trees from the curbside in their neighborhood for placement in the dunes as well. However, they are asked not to block pedestrian or vehicular access on the beach strand.

“The town of Emerald Isle encourages any interested oceanfront property owners to collect used Christmas trees from the curbside after Christmas and place them in the dunes to promote additional dune accretion,” Rush explained. “It’s a great way to put the used trees to productive use, and every little bit of dune accretion helps provide additional storm protection and natural habitat on the oceanfront.”

To learn more about Emerald Isle’s efforts, call 252-354-3424.

Kitty Hawk has tree-recycling program for residents who need trees for their properties.

W.S. Midgett, Kitty Hawk’s public works director, said town staff collects the trees and places them in the corner of the public works department’s parking lot, where property owners can get them as needed.

“Residents then pick them up and place them on the beach at their properties to assist in catching sand. This is on a first come, first served, self-service basis,” he said.

A handful of municipalities and counties along the coast use the trees in different ways, rather than placing them in the dunes.

Carolina Beach Town Manager Michael Cramer explained that town staff collects all trees placed at the curb every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Jan. 9 and January 30 and takes them to the County Landfill to be mulched.  This is a free service to residents.

“We also work with the Surfrider organization to provide them with trees that are used to help improve our dune ecosystem,” he added.

This year, the Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation’s fourth annual project will take place around the Periwinkle Lane beach access. Volunteers will place the trees at the toe of the dunes to collect windblown sand and build the dune system.

Dare County Public Works Director Edward Mann said Christmas trees collected by the county are put to a different use.

“We recycle our trees along with the other vegetative debris by grinding it into mulch and giving it away to our citizens,” Mann said.

In Duck, trees will be collected again on Jan. 9 as part of the town’s residential trash collection.

In Kill Devil Hills, curbside collection of natural Christmas trees will begin Jan. 11. Trees should be placed curbside no later than Jan. 10.

Nags Head’s curbside collection of Christmas trees is by appointment only. Call 252-441-1122 to schedule pickup.

For residents of Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Manteo, towns will pick up trees curbside, “in a timely fashion,” according to information on the county website.

Residents of unincorporated areas of Dare County are encouraged to bring their trees to either the Buxton or Manteo recycling collection centers, where the trees will be recycled into mulch.

Onslow County, as with many other counties across the state, accepts trees at its convenience center sites.

Lisa Rider, assistant solid waste director for Onslow County, said the county has a long tradition of recycling Christmas trees.

Onslow County Solid Waste accepts trees at its landfill drop site at 415 Meadowview Road, Jacksonville, from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at $25 a ton; and at Folkstone and Midway Park convenience center sites, 8 a.m. -5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at $1 per tree, Rider said.

Other coastal towns may also collect natural Christmas trees for dune preservation or to deliver collected trees to a nearby oceanfront town. For example, Beaufort’s public works department will collect natural Christmas trees on Jan. 11-13 to deliver to Fort Macon State Park.

Contact your town or county to see what programs they offer.

2017 Recycling and Yardwaste

Scott Sherrill - Thursday, December 08, 2016

Recycling is every other MondayDepending on where your home is, you will either be an “A” week or a “B” week.  Please read ahead to see what collection area your home is located in.

            “A WEEK” - Sycamore to the East

            “B WEEK” - Everything West of Sycamore

CLICK HERE for a 2017 calendar of recycling and yardwaste pick-up dates along with their guidelines. 

CLICK HERE to see the collection area maps to help determine if you are in section “A” or “B”.  

Calendars are available for pick-up at Town Hall.

The break for “A WEEK” on Sycamore is at the intersection of Sycamore and Beechwood – it does not go past the boat basin to the west.   

104,106 & 108 Beechwood and 226 Salter Path Rd are included with “B” WEEK.

Please note that the residences on the west side of Sycamore are on “B” week and across the road on the East side will be “A” week. 

Please rememeber to place your recycling and trash containers out the night before your scheduled pick-up. 

Louisiana Relief

Scott Sherrill - Friday, August 26, 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen of Pine Knoll Shores,

A concerned citizen came to us yesterday and asked that the Town try to rally support for the victims of the horrible flooding in Louisiana.  I THINK HE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT: PKS is a great community that helps our neighbors.  This time they’re just a little further away.

If your situation allows, I would ask each of you to consider finding a way to help out.

There are a myriad number of groups that have organized on-line fund raising, and we are all careful about what charitable agencies we support.  With that in mind I have attached an article from CNN that lists some legitimate organizations which can help.  Some of the major groups:

  • The Red Cross: The American Red Cross in Louisiana 
  • Louisiana Strong, a GoFundMe site: Louisiana Strong
  • The Gulf Coast Floods Children’s Relief Fund: Gulf Coast Floods Children's Relief Fund
  • The United Way: United Way of Southeast Louisiana

Please see the article below---there are more organizations than the ones I have highlighted.  There are even some that are looking for volunteers to travel to Louisiana!

Thanks for considering this.  We on the coast know that we are one storm event away from being the people in the news!

Ken Jones

Mayor, Pine Knoll Shores

How to help Louisiana flood victims

By Amy Chillag, Jennifer Grubb and Jacqueline Gulledge, CNN


Impact Your World has identified charities providing support for the victims of the most recent historic flooding in Louisiana.  The Salvation Army is sending out support personnel, setting up canteens (mobile feeding units), and distributing hygiene kits. You can volunteer or donate money to the Salvation Army's Gulf Coast fund to help the cause.

FEMA Director Craig Fugate tells CNN they currently have 2,000 people on the ground helping individuals and families sign up for aid. To register for assistance, visit FEMA's site or call 1-800-631-3362.


The American Red Cross in Louisiana is providing meals and dozens of shelters for residents needing a safe place to sleep. You can also text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. If you would like to volunteer, you can fill out an application.  Residents in affected areas can let loved ones know they are safe by filling out an American Red Cross Safe and Well form.


People in the flood zones are in desperate need of toiletries and basic health items. Louisiana Strong is a GoFundMe campaign that will distribute those items and other essentials to victims and first responders.

MAP International is also distributing hygiene kits and masks to prevent the spread of airborne diseases in affected areas.

Operation Blessing International has deployed volunteers to help with cleanup efforts. The organization is also providing hot meals. If you're interested in volunteering, email

Samaritan's Purse is in need of volunteers who can commit to at least three days. Volunteers will help residents with debris removal. Samaritan's Purse will provide accommodations and food for volunteers.

Also accepting people willing to assist in the response and recovery efforts is Volunteer Louisiana. Register online or email

The United Way invites you to help flood relief efforts by volunteering or making a donation through the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. You can also drop off or send toiletries and other items to several locations. Citizens in need of services should dial 211, which is a hotline operating 24/7.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans & Acadiana is distributing thousands of pounds of food, water and supplies to flood victims.

Convoy of Hope is providing food, water, equipment and relief supplies to southern Louisiana. You can support their work here. Please indicate you want the money donated to go towards the Louisiana August 2016 flood relief efforts.

Save the Children deployed an emergency response team to Baton Rouge to establish specialized spaces within emergency shelters where children's unique needs can be met. To support their efforts, you can donate to the Gulf Coast Floods Children's Relief Fund.

The Rho Epsilon Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority at Louisiana State University is raising money through GoFundMe to distribute $500 gift cards to families and students directly affected by the floods that can be used towards essentials in the recovery efforts.

Impact Your World will continue to monitor for ways you can help.

Sidewalk Bidding Documents

Scott Sherrill - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bidding documents for the Town's Arborvitae to Mimosa sidewalk segment are now available. Click this link to access them. The bidding deadline is September 9 at 2 PM. 

Pine Knoll Shores Welcome Packet

Scott Sherrill - Friday, August 12, 2016

Please click here to take a look at the Pine Knoll Shores Welcome Packet. In it, you will find some valuable information like: volunteering, staff contact information, trash and recycling picking, police and fire programs, etc. We welcome you to take a look and call us with any questions you may have!

March 2016 Shoreline Now Available Online

Scott Sherrill - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

March Shoreline

In Case You Missed It Stormwater and Groundwater Presentation

Scott Sherrill - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

If you missed the stormwater and groundwater presentation on February 19, featuring speakers from the Eastern Carolina Council of Governments and East Carolina University, it is available here: 

Weather---12 Feb 2016

Scott Sherrill - Friday, February 12, 2016

Weather alert---12 Feb 2016

Ride across North Carolina #4 Day 4: From Concord to Southern Pines

Scott Sherrill - Friday, October 02, 2015

Ride across North Carolina #4

Day 4: From Concord to Southern Pines

When the Blog Team editors looked over our work from last night, they realized we forgot to describe some of the fabulous area attractions around Concord, NC. Most of you are well aware that we really do not have Blog Team Editors. So how does this blog get written everyday? Well, it is usually done by the person on the Team who cares the most about our fans at any given moment on any given day.

So with that in mind here are the Concord Attractions. Wait, the Crazy Swedish Lady just sent a tweet and said she wanted more details. OK-- she asked for it so here it is.

It is Wednesday morning at 5:24 am and the Team member who has been assigned to care the most at this particular time is a southern male about six foot one inches tall, with a strong southern accent, currently wearing just his underpants and reading glasses.

He really doesn’t care that much about anything right now because he is dead tired, but currently on probation for losing his helmet yesterday. Our Team managers would be perfect running a maximum-security prison in Texas where they are serious about good order and discipline. 

So here are the attractions:

  • The Concord Mills Mall, one of the best shopping destinations in North and South Carolina.
  • The Concord Museum, was originally a confederate museum, but now houses other information because according to recent historical revisions the Civil War did not take place. All of you who have followed Civil War History can now just forget about it.
  • The Charlotte Motor Speedway is 2,000 acres of NASCAR on steroids. The land the Charlotte Motor Speedway now occupies was the site of a working plantation during the Civil War (again which did not take place).
  • President George Washington ate lunch and rested in a house that once served as the speedway’s offices. Don’t get me started- was he really the President- how did he eat lunch with wooden teeth?

Wait! I think it worked--I have been asked to slowly move away from the computer with my hands above my head and then sit quietly in a chair by the window and stare out at the rain. Yes--it is raining again today and I am not sure if I want to play anymore.

Todays ride was 79.9 miles (we will just call it 80) with an elevation gain of 3733 feet. This is our last day in the Mountains so tomorrow we will be ready to start the part of this ride that we are trained for--yes the Coastal Plains (flatlands)!!  

Breaking news…

This just in from Cycle North Carolina:

We have received the most recent report from Emergency Management and due to the forecast of extensive flooding, the threat of landfall from Hurricane Joaquin and the safety of our participants we have decided to end the ride.   

The Cycle NC headquarters will be available in the morning to answer any questions that you may have regarding your options.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you, but we are focused on getting everyone home safely. 

Just prior to this announcement the PKS Cycling Team decided to pack up and head quickly back to Carteret County because the Jarrett Bay Oyster Company had experienced extensive damage during last week because of extreme weather and needed immediate attention. JB, and JF (Now the Oyster Whisperer) and MH quickly dropped their smelly cycling gear, put on their best oyster farming clothes and headed to Jarrett Bay to fix all the problems caused by the bad weather.  They also will work the next three days to prepare for a storm landfall in our area. We hope and pray this will not happen and have gotten a good start on correcting the damage that was caused by the storm last week.

Goodbye is always bittersweet, but we love representing PKS in this event and hope you remember to make a contribution to Hospice.  Please remember, they are there for each and every one of us in what can be the most difficult time in our lives. Please hug a Hospice associate when you can.  They completely deserve it and, from our experiences, we believe they are angels on earth.


On the last day of the ride, MH was six miles from the 2nd rest stop chasing JB downhill as fast as their bikes could go when there was a loud snap and loss of power to the pedals on his bike. He slowly coasted to a stop and realized his chain was no longer on his bike, but instead was in the road about two blocks from where he stopped. JF behind MH quickly stopped to render assistance and summed up the situation by saying “boy you are screwed now!”

MH did not even have time to get despondent when he heard a voice say, “Do you boys need any help?” The man was driving an older black cargo van and said he would be happy to drive us to the next rest stop. He opened the back door of the van and JF and MH put their bikes in the back, which had an open space all the way to the driver and passenger seats. He then offered to stop by his house and get an additional seat, but MH said that he was so tired he would just lie down in the back. MH quickly noticed some sort of dried flowers lying in the back and began to wonder about this vehicle’s business use. The driver informed the cyclists that he worked for two local funeral homes and this was the vehicle they moved bodies around in before funerals. MH told the driver that he was feeling very peaceful and dreamlike while lying in the back of the van, but he did not have time for his own funeral because he had to get back to Carteret County to save Jarrett Bay Oyster Company. The driver responded “that’s OK,” but not to fall asleep because strange accidents happen in every business. Later, when the PKS Cyclists got out of the van, the driver heard MH and JF discussing the fact that neither one of them had any money to get the bike fixed. The driver graciously offered to give them money, which they declined.  However, they were convinced they had just been given a ride by an Angel on earth. If you think we made this up, please check with Edwards Funeral Home in Norwood, NC and ask for Clarence. 

In closing, we would encourage each of you to seek out hospice earth Angels and thank them for their wonderful contributions.  Just as importantly, we encourage you to contribute to the hospice organizations of Carteret County.

Crystal Coast Hospice House provides an inpatient hospice facility to patients and families along the central NC coast and Hospice of Carteret County provides in-home patient care through extensive Nursing Services. If you want to contribute, you simply make a check out to Crystal Coast Hospice House or the Carteret General Foundation (annotate your check for Hospice) to support Hospice of Carteret County and mail it to Mike Hargett, 139 Hoffman Beach Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512. Mike will take your contributions to these agencies and ensure you get a letter acknowledging your tax-deductible contribution.

Ride across North Carolina #4 Day 3: From Shelby to Concord

Scott Sherrill - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today’s ride was 78.8 miles with an elevation gain of 3328 feet.  It took our cyclists 6.5 hours to complete the course---and it was less painful than yesterday!  The ride began in a moderate rain, which continued until it turned to hard rain and then moved into the Monsoon Category.  The wind was blowing about 15 mph from the east--or in other words

the Atlantic Ocean. The locals describe this wind as so unusual, they consider it not right! Our cyclists said they had a better day because they have gotten used to being

wet, cold and tired and in a weird way they are starting to like it.

The PKS medical staff (BH and SB), in taking care of the cyclists, made them turn in all the sharp objects they had in their possession. They then put them on a short list for treatment for a rare form of mental illness associated with being crazy for enduring this special form of torture.

Speaking of crazy, did you know that Willy Nelson wrote the song “Crazy” and was so desperate for money he sold it to Patsy Cline for $50. Patsy Cline was already a country music star and working to extend a string of hits, picked it as a follow-up to her previous big hit "I Fall to Pieces". "Crazy". It’s complex melody suiting Cline's vocal talent perfectly, it was released in late 1961 and immediately became another huge hit for Cline and widened the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. It spent 21 weeks on the chart and eventually became one of her signature tunes. Cline's version is #85 on Rolling Stones’ list of The Five Hundred Greatest Hits of all time.

Speaking of crazy…now back to the action. JF (Dog Whisperer) had his bike repaired over night and was ready to go at first light. Remember, he did not ride the last 20 miles the day before because his bike was broken. JB and MH finished the course and were feeling a bit peaked at first light and in fact offered a number of excuses to the team trainers why they should get the day off. Well you know that was going nowhere because the PKS Cycling team’s motto is “Go Hard or Go Home”. So they rode like the US postal service’s motto “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. We are not sure they (The US Postal Service) did not steal that from Santa Claus, but we have to focus on finishing this blog.

Remember from the prologue the 28 Team rules that our trainers imposed on the PKS Cyclists. Well, here are a few and how they are working so far:

  • Do not lose track of your teammates during the ride or you will have to go find them. This rule has only been violated 16 times in four days.
  • Never remove any of your clothing in public. Violated by JB and his socks yesterday.
  • Never drink too much after a long ride because it will dehydrate you and you might get cramps. All three of our riders have experienced this displeasure.
  • Never but never insult the support staff.  By the way, they are the team managers and they don’t like to be called “Staff.”  JB has now promised to present flowers to BH, but she prefers Champagne. 
  • Cyclists should protect their equipment at all times and never lose any of it.  MH left his helmet on the truck bed tonneau cover, and drove away.  The helmet is gone for good.  He had to buy a replacement helmet, but all-the-while protesting he did not need one, because his ancestors, the Germans, have hard heads.  BH claimed he is as crazy as the song Willie Nelson wrote. 

Tonight we partook of lovely Indian Cuisine, consisting of chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, lentils, spinach, naan bread, and chased with Hayward 5500 Indian beer, with an alcohol content of 8 percent.

JF was interviewed and photographed by the local paper, while standing in line get his bike fixed.  His particulars appeared in the The Star newspaper, which is a local Shelby, NC newspaper.

The Swedish lady called to complain the cyclists have been grousing every day about rain.  She said, if you want to see rain, travel to PKS.  She further asserts if you are cycling in PKS, you would have to employ a snorkel.  And finally, she claims we are not using a sufficient number of Swedish words in the blog.  Here are a few more for our reading audience. 

  • Crazy (Galen)
  • No problem (Inga Problem)
  • Don’t worry about it (det gor inget)
  • Where is the toilet please (var ar toaletten)

Until tomorrow, Hej, hej !!