Laura Bankey: “Today we are at Dam Neck Annex, part of Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, restoring sand dune habitat along the Atlantic coast.
Heather Minick: “Right now, currently, we are planting panic grass on the dunes to help prevent erosion.”
Laura: “It’s a two-day project. Today we have between 50 and 70 volunteers … mostly local folks.”
Michael Wright: “We had firefighters out here today. We’ve had retired military, active duty military, civilian … all working together in a situation where they might not have ever done that before.”
Narrator: Sand dune habitat is the first line of defense against severe weather patterns moving in from offshore. The dunes can help protect houses and other buildings behind them from strong wind or wave events. The roots of the grasses that these volunteers are planting here today fan out beneath the dunes, helping to keep the sand from blowing away or washing out with the current.
Laura: “Sand dunes provide excellent habitat for a variety of animals: birds, reptiles, small mammals. If you could look closely, you’d see tracks in the sand dunes where obviously there are lots of critters using this as habitat.”
Sarah Sprague: “The actual habitat restoration is important for their environmental benefits, but mostly with these projects, getting the community volunteers out to help, and really getting people in touch with their environment … and it’s a great way to see the results.”
Michael: “When they are actually are out here doing the planting themselves, it gives them a vested interest in the area. They not only get to learn about where they’re living, see what else is living out here, but they also, because they are doing the work themselves they want to maintain it. If they do work, they don’t want to see it go away.
Narrator: This particular beach was chose because it is prime habitat for a variety of wildlife and one of the few undeveloped beaches on the East Coast. It is important to work to protect environments like these, not only for the animals that live there but for ourselves as well.