EMERALD ISLE — By the end of Thursday, crews from Coastal Transplants in Bolivia had finished the mechanical-planting of vegetation on the tops of new dunes created in the recent beach nourishment project in Emerald Isle.
According to Greg Rudolph, manager of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office, the hand-planting crew has been “pounding away” putting in vegetation on the dune slopes, and crews should be in Pine Knoll Shores next week.
“It’s (the planter) close to averaging 12,000 to 15,000 plants per day, and the hand-planting crew, which is huge, is averaging 5,000 to 8,000 plants per day,” he said. “Each and every sea oat or bitter panicum – often called ‘running beachgrass’ – receives water and about a tablespoon of slow-release fertilizer when planted, so that’s awesome productivity.”
Before starting work in Emerald Isle, the contractor finished in western Atlantic Beach.
Once Pine Knoll Shores – the longest continuous stretch of the effort – is done, the project will wrap up with planting in a small stretch of Salter Path at the state-owned, county-operated beach access facility.
Although there have been reports of people walking on dune plants, Mr. Rudolph said the county and Coastal Transplants do their best to keep that from happening.
“We provide a “no plant” path at every stairway, regardless if they are public accesses or for individual homes,” he said. “This helps guide the foot traffic away from the plants by providing a clear pathway.”
He said “foot traffic is a problem. From a visitor’s perspective, the plantings are small and it takes several weeks for new green shoots to sprig and grow and look like a real plant.”
As a result, Mr. Rudolph said, “Maybe just plain old situational awareness is an issue. But the towns and property owners have been extremely quick in setting post-and-rope on each perimeter of the ‘no plant’ pathway to further steer the foot traffic.”
In fact, he said, “We literally had one condominium complex in Emerald Isle waiting with the post-and-rope in their hands until the mechanical planter made its final pass and installed them immediately.”
Those are installed after the mechanical planting is complete so they don’t hinder the planter while it’s working.
Mr. Rudolph urged oceanfront property owners to wait until after mechanical planting is complete to install sand fences to help catch more sand. Failure to wait means the mechanical planter has to skip areas, which requires hand-planters to go back and fill in the missed areas, lengthening the project.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.