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  1. Dunes

  2. The dunes behind the beach are what help make the beach stable.This is South Beach in May, 2006.

  3. The back side of the dunes at South Beach show plenty of vegetation, which is good. The vegetation can trap windblown sand. The roots of the plants keep the dune stable.

  4. The front side (facing the beach) does not look quite as healthy. But this is in May, after a long winter of storms and erosion. Hopefully these dunes will rebuild during the summer.

  5. Sometimes we need to help nature. Fencing can help to trap sand.

  6. At a portion of South Beach, the dunes once had to be entirely removed and rebuilt. They were discovered to contain military ordnance from World War II!

  7. They look somewhat odd because they are so straight, but now they have plenty of vegetation to be stable.

  8. The real hero is the underground part (called rhizomes) of this humble plant: american beach grass.

  9. Beach grass is actually stimulated to grow more rhizomes and send up more shoots as it traps windblown sand and gently gets buried. This is how dunes form.

  10. The dunes at State Beach are small, and are especially vulnerable.

  11. It only takes one person walking through the dunes to cause major damage to them.

  12. Interestingly, some of the scrubbiest looking beach and dunes provide the best habitat for nesting shorebirds.

  13. The shorebirds need our protection too.

  14. The piping plover is an endangered species, dangerously close to extinction. It is a nests on the beach.

  15. This is the least tern, another nesting shorebird in trouble.

  16. How to get the birds and the people to co-exist is the challenge. They both desire the beach, but for different reasons.

  17. Aerial view of State Beach, a heavily used barrier beach with a road and two bridges on it. Notice the jetties along the beach.

  18. This is Sarson’s Island in Sengekontacket Pond.It is a very important and safe nesting spot for many birds.

  19. Our dunes are precious and delicate. Their protection and future depends on our knowledge of them.