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Recycled Christmas trees serve a special purpose on NJ beaches :: WRAL.com

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— Weeks after the holidays, Christmas trees are providing a protective gift to Jersey Shore beaches.

The repurposed trees will help to form a critical barrier between the ocean and houses on the beaches in Brigantine, New Jersey.

Children from the local school’s surf club even helped the city’s public works crews put the trees down in the sand in an effort to build up and fortify sand dunes.

“We’re trying to protect the community. So if a hurricane happens no water will come up and ruin the houses,” said one student, Carter Doorley.

For years, people have dropped off their Christmas trees with the city so they can be repurposed in this way.

Experts say the branches help trap blowing sand, and the dunes grow as that sand piles up. In the years ahead, the trees will naturally disintegrate under the sand, helping to eventually provide nutrients to dune grass.

“Because we live on a barrier island, it’s a fragile ecosystem,” said James Wilkinson, a teacher at Brigantine Community School.

“It’s like almost like a happy thing to do,” said another volunteer, Natalie Cooke.

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