All About That Dune Life

Muir, Leopold, Carson, the three most important environmental writers in history. I’d argue Dr. Seuss was more influential than those three, but, whatever. I’m not one of them, nor am I the Lorax. I do, however, keep a field journal and every now and then, I share some of those entries.
This was today’s …

Empty Sand Hills or Complex Ecosystem Teaming With Life? The back dunes, to most people it’s pretty empty, not a lot here. To me, it’s one of the most unique habitats on the planet. Constantly changing. The wind, the weather, the moving sands. I’m out here to give it a little hand. It’s loaded with a non-native plant called black pine. Evidence of people here in this dynamic wilderness. There’s a 6-point buck staring at me. I guess he wants to know what I’m doing out here. Well, I’ve come to take the trees and lovegrass we put here, and give you back your native plants.”

invasive trees, Japanese black pines, delaware seashore state park, cape henlopen state park, route 1, fire watch tower, ghost tower, coastal highway, atlantic ocean
The dunes between the Tower beach parking lot and route 1 will be cleared of Japanese pines.

As those black pines took over, they took away the nutrients that help grow the bayberrys, beach grasses, heathers, pines, oaks, and sassafras that should be here. The people out on the beach have no idea this is all here. Delaware is a unique part of the Atlantic coastline, protected dunes throughout an extensive coastal State Park system.

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There’s another pinweed, I’ve only ever found one other. The botanist tells me it’s Lechea maritima, and is typically found in the back dunes on the Atlantic coast. Except, there’s not a lot of back dunes on the Atlantic coast. It’s mostly houses, resorts loaded with people enjoying the beach, with no idea what was here before.

Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
Ghost crabs live in our dune and beach systems

Why shouldn’t you be in the dunes? Mostly people think it’s an empty pile of sand. The reality is it’s loaded with life. The flora and fauna of the back dunes lead a tough life. They fight the ocean, the salt water, the wind, the constantly moving sand, the harsh sun…and, sadly, houses, hotels, and highways. It’s one of my paradises, so lets not pave it to put up a parking lot.

Andrew Hansen

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  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
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  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
  • Delaware beaches, dune systems, walking dune, sussex county, delaware state parks, ghost crab, gackle, red fox, osprey
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