Gulf Shores Students Help in Green Romar Beach: In Gulf Shores, a group of 45 students took a hands-on approach to safeguard their community. Their mission on Monday involved planting thousands of native plants to green the parking lot at the Romar Beach access.
Ryland McLean, one of the students, expressed the significance of their efforts, stating, “Today we’re planting sea oats and other sea plants to help the sea dunes grow and help our environment stay structurally in place, and it feels amazing to be out here with my fellow students because it’s really just an amazing feeling to help the environment grow.”
Beyond the physical act of planting, students engaged in educational discussions about the plants and state park maintenance. Frédérique Beroset, owner of Dune Doctors, emphasized the value of this hands-on experience, noting, “Getting that hands-on experience of putting the plants in the ground is invaluable because then they take ownership of that environment and the dune system, and they learn a lot.”
The planted native vegetation serves a dual purpose: protecting the parking lot by limiting wind-blown sand accumulation and preparing students for future dune restoration projects. Sand accumulation on paved areas can erode asphalt and strip away paint lines, posing potential hazards.
For students like Parker Oglespy, who have been involved in similar projects before, the experience holds added meaning. He noted, “A little bit more meaningful just being chosen this time and just being able to help out.”
For those new to the experience, like the students who were “in for a treat,” as Natural Resource Planner for Gulf State Park Kelly Reetz put it, the day offered a valuable lesson in the importance of protecting the dunes. This hands-on initiative not only benefits the immediate environment but also serves as a foundation for future mentorship in dune restoration projects in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.