The impact of beach access paths on dune vegetation was investigated on the Isle of Palms, SC. Understanding the impacts of the most direct form of disturbance in this system (beach access paths) is of increasing importance from ecological and economic perspectives. Vegetation characteristics were measured along transects in foredune, mid dune and back dune communities at set distances from beach access paths. Survey was conducted to allow comparisons between path types and materials. Results indicate that beach access paths have a significant impact on beach dune vegetation. Sand paths cause greater reductions in vegetative cover than wooden paths and wooden paths raised at least 0.7m from the sand surface cause the least reduction in vegetation cover. Closely spaced paths reduce the species richness and percent of vegetative cover more than paths spaced at least 40 m apart. Current regulations can be minimally altered to improve dune vegetation and dune stability. Regulations requiring construction of raised wooden paths and disallowing private sand paths would greatly improve dune vegetation continuity. Additionally, voluntary path sharing of neighboring properties could significantly reduce the number of paths per mile of coastline while creating minimal inconvenience for beachfront homeowners and visitors.
|Advisor:||Murren, Courtney J.|
|Commitee:||Gramling, Joel M., Keenan, Kevin P., McCandless, Amy T., Pritchard, Seth G.|
|School:||College of Charleston|
|School Location:||United States -- South Carolina|
|Source:||MAI 52/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Environmental Studies, Land Use Planning|
|Keywords:||Beach access path, Coastal dunes, Coastal planning, Human impact, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, Sustainable planning, Vegetation|
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