What are Sand Dunes and why are they important?
Dunes are a resilient natural barrier to the destructive forces of wind and waves. They are the least expensive and most efficient defense against storm-surge flooding and beach erosion. Dunes absorb the impact of high waves and storm surges, preventing or delaying the intrusion of water into inland areas. Dunes hold sand that help replenish eroded beaches after storms as well as buffer windblown sand and salt spray. By serving as our front line of defense against tropical storms and hurricanes, sand dunes can prevent property loss and save lives.
What factors threaten the stability of sand dunes?
The growth of mainland coastal population centers and the increasing development and recreational use of the barrier islands threaten the stability of the dune environment. Construction and heavy use of the beaches contribute to dune deterioration. The vegetation that secures sand is destroyed, sand is lost, and the dune line is breached by roads, trails, and storm runoff. Dune damage that results from human activities accelerates the damage caused by wind and wave erosion.
What can be done to preserve dunes and prevent dune deterioration?
- The natural defense dunes provide can be strengthened by enhancing the development and stability of existing dunes and by building new ones. Native vegetation can be planted to accelerate sand accumulation. Plants such as bitter panicum, sea oats, and cordgrass can help trap sand and stabilize dunes. Temporary structures such as slated wood or plastic sand fencing may also be used, but use of natural plantings is preferable.
- In areas where local sand supply is insufficient, dunes can be artificially constructed with imported beach-quality sand. These constructed dunes must be vegetated to maintain their stability.
- Before beginning any beachfront construction or dune restoration activity, check with your local government beach and dune authority to obtain the proper permits and to ensure that no dunes will be harmed.
- To report destruction of dunes, or if you have any questions about dune protection or restoration, visit the Texas General Land Office Beach Access and Dune Protection Program at Glo.texas.gov