POINT PLEASANT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Help to protect the environment in the Garden State is coming from a surprisingly festive source.

Christmas trees have received a second life in Point Pleasant as thousands of donated trees are being used to create a reef of sorts to protect the marsh area from erosion, CBSN New York’s Meg Baker reported Wednesday.

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New Jersey environmental officials are using Christmas trees to combat erosion in marshes. (Photo: CBSN New York)

Over the years, the Slade Dale Nature Wildlife Sanctuary has been eaten away by coastal storms and wave action. The marshy area is home to wildlife like ospreys and more. Capt. Al Modjeski, the habitat restoration program director with the American Littoral Society, helped develop the idea of using evergreens.

“We came up with a couple of hybrid ideas, ended up with a branch box break water as you see out here. Originally, that was something used in New Orleans after Katrina in low-energy environments like this,” Modjeski said. “Then we have the tree veins that kind of come off the shore a little perpendicular to catch sediment once it comes out of suspension. So, the whole thing is, we don’t have branch boxes, the branches, like they do in New Orleans, so we try to figure out what could we use? We have Christmas trees and we get them every year.”

A reef made of oyster shells helps weigh down the trees so they stay in place. Baker spotted two swans enjoying the area on Wednesday morning.

Christmas trees were used to rebuild the dune system in Bradley Beach after Superstorm Sandy. Modjeski said the plan has held up well and he hopes other towns sign up to do the same.

Earlier this month, volunteers dressed in waders went into the water and placed evergreens in cribs. The trees are weighed down by oyster shells collected from restaurants through a program called “Schuck It, Don’t Chuck It.”

Modjeski said Christmas trees are perfect because they are natural, available, and water can run through the branches.

In Bradley Beach, Christmas trees were used after Superstorm Sandy to re-build the local dune system. Locals said the six to eight-feet wide dunes make a big difference.

Modjeski added that both projects took little funding, but a lot of community involvement for the greater good of the local environment.


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