EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A dune planting project is now complete on the beach in Emerald Isle.  

Town officials say over 300,000 native plants were planted in the dune over the last four weeks. The plants that are there now will help protect the town’s most valuable asset: their coastal resiliency.  

“The dunes are a critical component of protection. It’s our primary natural protective device,” said Emerald Isle Town Manager Matt Zapp. 

Zapp said a $48 million beach nourishment project began after Hurricane Florence in 2018. Each of the three phases of that included installing native vegetation in the dunes.  

“What we saw was that some of that vegetation had an 80-85% retention rate. So we looked at the beach, we went up and down in determined areas that we would want to plant and to preserve the dunes,” said Zapp.  

So, in the fall of 2021, they began harvesting to prepare to plant more. 

“Our contractor came and harvested natural seeds, the vegetative seeds grew those seeds over the winter of ‘21,” said Zapp. 

Now, in 2022, we’re here with fresh new vegetation on the beach.  

“Planting of the dunes and maintaining the dunes is exactly what we need to do to preserve the quality of our beaches,” said Zapp.  

And with the possibility of a busier than normal hurricane season around the corner, Zapp said when it comes to protecting the beaches, they’ll be ready. 

“We prepare every year for storms, regardless of the predictions. And so we need to be always on ready and always on go,” said Zapp. 

Overall, the most important message they share is reminding residents and visitors to stay off the dunes.