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History Lives Here Text

WONDERS OF DUNE GRASS

By BobSimonds

Many call itbeach grass, some call it dune grass, others refer to it as Marrow Grass, and aselect few call it, Ammophila breviligulata.

 

But then,"what's in a name. That which we call:" beach grass or dune grassdid, without question, save our dunes and shoreline from devastating erosion alittle over 100 years ago.

 

About twenty years after the greatChicago Fire of 1871, O.C. Simonds, a well known Chicago Landscape Architect,introduced at Pier Cove the perfect anti-erosion plant known as beach grass.More than any other plant, beach grass has done the major job of holding theLake Michigan sand from being blown away.

Ithas adapted to the severe conditions along the shoreline, and managed to thrivewhere most other plants would only wither and die.

 

Asthe sand builds up around the individual plant, the grass grows higher and itsroot system adapts going ever deeper to reach a source of water. Although it isusually planted in plugs, it will self seed even in strong winds. This grassusually stays on the beach or dunes seldom competing with other plants thatneed less sun and more water.

 

Backin 1996 and 1997 when the water level was high, there was a lot of damage doneto the shoreline. Today, the beach grass has recaptured much of the lost sandand the shoreline has been stabilized.

 

Many membersand residents learned more about O.C. Simonds and the special grass heintroduced it the 1890's at the Saugatuck-Douglas Heritage Festival inSeptember. There were also guided tours of 0. C. Simonds Trust Ravine.