Village, State park partner on Christmas tree reuse program

One wouldn’t traditionally think of a correlation between Christmas trees and beaches, but Greenport Village and Orient Beach State Park have teamed up to put discarded Christmas trees to good use and help prevent erosion.

William Bohach, Orient Beach State Park manager, described the state park as “a little sandbar protecting the rest of Orient,” and said in a recent interview that the park loses a lot of sand in every storm.

He added that while the named storms like Superstorm Sandy and others cause damage, it’s the nor’easters “that just eat our sand.”

“[The sand] winds up going east, and it’s over at the ferry, we pick it up there and we bring it back,” he said.  “The trees help hold the sand in place, but it doesn’t hold all of it, it helps a little bit and until a long-term solution can be designed to protect this spot, we’re doing what we can.”

The first step is placing the collected or donated trees on the beach, then with a truck that can carry about two cubic yards of sand, according to Mr. Bohach, park employees dump the sand on to the Christmas trees. The trees are then pushed down to create a protective barrier to hold the sand in place and prevent erosion.

According to Mr. Bohach, there are about four park employees working on this project and they will have dumped over 30 loads of sand by the end of every day.

Greenport village first started collecting trees on Jan. 4. Mr. Bohach said they got their first delivery on Jan. 5 of about 75 trees. 

Village employees drop off the collected trees at a designated spot past the entrance of the park. The program will continue throughout the rest of the month of January.

They had begun using Christmas trees on a smaller scale around three years ago, Mr. Bohach said. They had also tried fencing as another method to help with the erosion, but he said the storms are too rough and the fences “just got eaten alive.”

Mr. Bohach said park employees keep busy during the winter doing various projects to prevent erosion.

Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard said the idea for this project came from the Village’s Tree Committee.

“We’ve talked about it for years, the committee has, just saying we should do something with these trees, but we never found a place or means to repurpose them and when this came up that Orient [State Park] could use them for beach erosion and stuff like that, it was the perfect fit,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Hopefully we can continue this in the future, every year, it’s just good all-around I believe.”