Keeping sandy beaches in place

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

Two Mississippi State University professors say native plants are the key to stopping the sand from blowing onto U.S. Highway 90 along the Gulf Coast.

For more than a decade, professors Pete Melby and Thomas Cathcart have studied the use of native plants to reduce beach erosion.

Sea grasses planted near the Schooner Pier at Biloxi are the latest experimental plot along the shoreline.

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Melby says the most effective way of keeping sand on the beach is to plant large enough sea oats and large enough salt marsh hay plants on the lower beach.

They say small shrubs like marsh elder are perfect for a beach landscape.

The professors are helping develop a landscape and planting plan for the entire 26 miles of sand beach.