By MADDY VITALE
The Ocean City Environmental Commission and the Ocean City High School Student Environmental Association (SEA) joined forces Saturday to plant beach plums on the dunes of 57th Street to create a stronger barrier against coastal storms.
About 15 members of SEA and members of the city’s Environmental Commission and other community members came together to plant the hearty beach plums in the dunes. Each volunteer was equipped with a shovel and a bucket. A break in the morning showers gave just enough time for the team to do their job.
“I like to help create a sustainable coast by planting beach plums,” said 17-year-old high school student Michael Cupit. “We have hurricanes and other coastal storms that wash away the sand. Beach plums help prevent some of that.
The beach plum cuttings were provided by Alma George, owner of Jalma Farms in Ocean View.
George gave the volunteers instructions on how to plant them and an overview of the benefits of beach plums.
“Mother Nature put these trees here and they help create something like a sand fence,” George said.
George explained the importance of protecting the dunes and how dune grass alone is not enough to fortify the dunes.
She told the volunteers that to plant beach plums properly, they should be about 10 to 12 feet apart and deep in sand and soil because of the long roots.
Sophomores and SEA members Keira Reilly and Ally Dougherty, both 16 and from Ocean City, worked together to dig sand and dig a hole deep enough to plant the beach plums.
They agreed that planting them was not only fun, but an important thing for the coastal community to do.
“I think it’s good that we’re helping the environment to make a barrier against future storms,” Keira said.
“It will help with flood prevention and the whole environment,” Ally added. “Beach plums take a while to grow, but they really help.”
Environment Committee Chairman Rick Bernardini observed the busy volunteers at work and said, “It worked well today. We recruited a few new volunteers and about 12-15 students from the environmental association.
Ocean City Councilman Keith Hartzell, a mayoral candidate in the May 10 mayoral election, was also among the volunteers to help with the plantings. Representatives from Water’s Edge Environmental, an Ocean City-based environmental consulting firm, also participated in the planting.
Chanon Styer, 17, of Estell Manor, is a senior at Ocean City High School. She noted that the day wasn’t just about planting beach plums.
“I like that we do this and get out into the community. It shows the community that there are clubs in the school that want to come out and help out,” Chanon said.