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Thursday, June 20, 2024


Invasive Plants Threaten Avalon Dune Health


By Leslie Truluck

AVALON — The borough is seeking to remedy potential threats to the health of the dune system and natural maritime forests here caused by invasive plant species.
“The conditions in the dunes require attention,” Environmental Commission Chairman Dr. Brian Reynolds told council Dec. 9.
Invasive species, like Japanese black pine and bamboo, have caused concern for diminishing animal habitat and food sources, potential fire hazards, as well as spread of insects and disease.
Japanese Black Pine was once thought to be a good stabilizer for the dunes, due to its thick roots. However, they have the genetic potential to grow up to 80 feet and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service categorize it as “mildly invasive.”
The commission is updating the borough’s Dune Vegetation Management Plan in order to monitor and control of what is planted in the dune areas, to ensure they are suitable for that environment. Corrective changes to the ordinance will move the pines to the “not recommended” list. The pines attract insects that attack the trees and carry diseases.
Japanese black pines produce extremely flammable needles and cones that, in the event of a fire, could cause it to spread, resulting in damage to properties and the dunes natural maritime forest, Reynolds said.
He said the pines don’t serve as habitat and are not a source of food for wildlife.
A species of bamboo planted on a property near 40th Street has potential to grow 25 feet high and spread. Since most types of bamboo are invasive, the commission has opted to prohibit all bamboo types in the dunes.
The plan encourages a wider diversity of trees and shrubs in the dunes system through systematic replacement of the invasive species with indigenous plants. A test area at the 74th Street dunes, where Japanese black pines have already begun to die will be replaced, as recommended in the report.
The trees’ crowns will be removed, but roots will remain intact, to hold the dunes together. They need to be removed by hand, without heavy machinery, in order not to damage dunes. The half-block 74th Street pilot area is outside of piping plover nesting areas protected by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Funding for this endeavor may be available through a Smart Growth Planning Grant funded by the NJ Environmental Trust.
The commission will review a final draft of the Dune Vegetation Management Plan, prepared by Lomax Consulting Group of Court House, before it is presented to council.
Lomax investigated the entire borough dune system from Townsend Inlet to 80th Street to understand the pine’s height and density distribution. Trees are nearing 25-feet in the 74th Street pilot area.
Environmental Commission will discuss changes to the plan for the dune area during its regular meeting Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. at Borough Hall.
A copy of the plan will be available on the borough’s Web site,

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