LIBBA’s Operation Christmas Tree

Story and pictures by Bill Jakob


Shifting like the sand of time, beach access comes and goes.  Years ago the blame fell on four wheel drive vehicles causing the destruction of beachfront, wearing away the protective barrier beaches. With each new year it seems we battle a new challenge opposing the use of beach access for motor vehicles.  The most prolific challenge today belongs to a bird only the size of a golf ball with wings, nesting in nature’s  stealthiest attire. Matching the colors of Long Island’s beaches they nest on open sand, utilizing total stillness and a near invisibility hoping not to become a foxes next meal or a bump under your tire.
Long Island Beach Buggy Association  (LIBBA) was established in 1958 with Harry Kinsey at the helm.  LIBBA has been at the forefront of preserving beach access and a stanch steak holder in beach conservation. Years back Christmas trees destined for the landfill, having  once graced the homes at Christmastime and later discarded, became instrumental in the formation of new dune
structure all along Long Island’s southern barrier beaches for decades. The LIBBA program was curtailed in the early eighties due to environmental concerns
surrounding fire retardant sprays, tinsel and other decorations not removed after being discarded and ultimately destined for creating dunes. A new program recently introduced to the barrier beaches by the United States Fish and Wildlife to bolster  the piping plover stock by deforestation of vegetation, has come under local scrutiny. The gist of the program
is to establish a preferred habitat in areas not utilized by beach vehicles and beach goers on foot.
The problem however is the loss of vegetation along dunes and protective beaches in non-plover  nesting areas. Operation Christmas Tree has been reborn,
with the donation of unsold Christmas trees from Home Depot and Lowe’s stores. With assistance from the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the  Suffolk County Parks Department, thousands of unsold Christmas trees were delivered to Smith Point outer beach entrance and with LIBBA members and their trucks hauling the trees to wash over or areas of risk of wash over. The unsold Christmas trees were stacked along a snow fence line
which will catch blown sand from winters cold winds building a barrier dune and the eventually grasses and trees key to the stabilization of barrier island beaches, providing areas of access for fishermen and beach goers, while at the same time providing a safe suitable habitat for piping plovers. Operation Christmas Tree is a win-
win program for everyone while at the same time saving millions of dollars of taxpayers money through a natural means of restoring barrier beach areas.

If you access Long Island beaches by vehicle or by foot, the Long Island Beach Buggy Association would love to have you join thousands of members already involved in the preservation of beaches and vehicles use on them.

LIBBA Is one of Long Islands oldest beach conservation and access groups and is in need of your help. Stop by the Long Island Beach Buggy Association booth during the Striper Day Show
and  join your fellow beach users in the preservation of beach vehicle access.

8 comments on “LIBBA’s Operation Christmas Tree

  1. Joseph GaNun

    Not sure, but it may have been more effective to set those trees either in front or behind ( lanward ) the fencing. My guess is landward. As for the plovers, they don’t use the dunes. They nest in the flat area seaward of the dune and prefer beaches with lot’s of broken shell to enhance their camouflage. Regardless, it’s still a good thing to build any kind of dunes.

  2. Gilly

    Although I do see some positivity in regards to the trees and their intended purpose….however, in this day and age, I’m surprised it’s allowed?
    With concerns of trees making their way into the ocean and possibly causing issues with boat traffic or simply young adults partying in such areas, torching the trees up…as most know, they’re extremely flammable. If one was to light one side of that tree trail….my goodness, what a blaze that would be.

    Not that I have a better solution, just surprised that it was allowed.

  3. TedC

    Awesome piece, thank you for the information and the colorful narrative. This is a great example of what sets SJ apart from the rest of the internet.


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