When Superstorm Sandy hit Island Beach State Park — one of the last remnants of New Jersey's barrier island ecosystem — it flattened the dunes, pushing all that sand hundreds of feet inland.

Three months later, the park was still officially closed, but the beach swarmed with volunteers. Members of the local Beach Buggy Association, volunteers from inland New Jersey, and a chilly but enthusiastic group of high school students dragged hundreds of old Christmas trees across the sand and lay them in a snaking line along the beach.

It seems like a bizarre strategy, but it's an effective one. The trees' needles and branches will trap wind-borne sand and serve as a foundation for new dunes. (Read full story from NPR)