Eighteen-year-old Chris Hohman stood in dunes by the sides of the Commonwealth Avenue beach entryway in Strathmere looking over the neat rows of foot-high dune grass he planted earlier this winter.
As he examined his work, Strathmere homeowner Pat Monaghan passed him on her way onto the beach and offered him a warning.
"I wouldn't stand in there if I were you. I've heard it's filled with poison ivy," said Monaghan, who had just returned to her summer home for the season.
"Not any more. I've cleared it all out," Hohman replied proudly.
"And you did all that grass, too?" Monaghan asked, taking in the job.
"Yep," he said.
"Well, thank you so much. We are benefiting from that," she said.
Hohman, a resident of Seaville, chose to undertake the maintenance of the Strathmere dunes at Commonwealth Avenue as his Eagle Scout project.
With the help of the members of his Boy Scout Troop, Upper Township Troop 55, and the approval of the Upper Township officials, Hohman cleared out the shrubs and poison ivy that had overtaken the dunes, leveled out the sand and placed 3,000 dune grass and rugosa rose plants in that space.
He completed the manual labor parts of the project over the weekends in January and February, including one rainy day of planting, though he had been planning out the project for more than a year prior.
He had meetings with Township Engineer Paul Dietrich to talk over the details, researching the plants and organizing a Christmas tree sale fundraiser to raise money to purchase the materials.
Now that the warm weather is here and the dune grass has grown, Hohman is able to truly appreciate his project.
"My family and I often come to the Strathmere beaches, and I know this is something people will benefit from," he said. "Dunes preservation not only looks good, it is important for the homes nearby."
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