Construction and Stabilization of Coastal Foredunes with Vegetation: Padre Island, Texas.
GULF UNIVERSITIES RESEARCH CONSORTIUM HOUSTON TX
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Experiments were conducted from 1969 to 1974 on Padre Island, Texas, to establish technical specifications and methodologies for the use of beach grasses to construct and stabilize foredunes as storm surge barriers along the gulf coast. Conclusions are based on 2.5 linear miles of experimental plots, consisting of beach plantings and fence-built dunes. Additional experiments on the effects of nutrients and salinity on beach grass growth were conducted in a greenhouse. Bitter panicum and sea oats were the best adapted species for beach plantings. The most successful method of establishing a vegetated dune ridge was transplanting these grasses on the backshore, where they trapped, grew through, and stabilized accumulating sand. Barren dunes built with sand fencing were stabilized with grasses, but the process was more difficult and costly. Most beach plantings were made with a tobacco transplanter, with single culms spaced on 2-foot centers and planted or seated 8 inches deep. A 50-foot-wide planting trapped all available blowing sand. Time-costs for establishing a 1-mile-long, 50-foot-wide beach planting 2-foot centers of sea oats and bitter panicum were 500 and 287 man-hours, respectively. Both grasses were successfully transplanted year round, but winter through spring was the most favorable period. Transplant survival was influenced by many factors, but mostly by soil moisture and salinity. Fertilzation of plantings during the first year improved initial sand-trapping ability, but subsequent fertilization was unnecessary. Postplanting irrigation did not improve transplant survival, but preplanting irrigation was essential for fence-built dunes.
- Geology, Geochemistry and Mineralogy