Recycled Christmas trees fight coastal erosion in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Once a year you may find Christmas trees piling up in an unusual location: the beach. 

Local businesses and organizations across Hampton Roads and North Carolina use the first few weeks in January to collect old Christmas trees for dune restoration.

Chicho's restaurant in Virginia Beach is just one of many groups collecting recycled Christmas trees.

In just two days since putting out the announcement, nearly 40 trees have been collected and that number is only expected to go up. Right now, they are located in the back of the parking lot.

On Wednesday, volunteers drove around Virginia Beach neighborhoods picking up trees and wreaths that were placed along the curbs.

“We’re one big community and one big family and no one should ever lose their house or their property," said volunteer and community partner, Victor Enriquez.

Managers and volunteers will pack up multiple trucks and spread the trees across Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks.

“Locally, we are going to hit Croatan [and the] Outer Banks because [they] get hit hard every year with all the tropical storms, so I really want to help them out as well," Chicho's general manager Rory Schindel said.

The trees act as a natural sand fence because they trap loose sand picked up by the wind.

The wood and branches will help with erosion control and overtime improve the health of the dune system.

Related: Virginia Beach restaurant raising its structure to prevent future flood damage 

It's a natural way to build up the dunes after storms like Hurricane Florence or Tropical Storm Michael.

“Next year we’ll open the tree drop to all 5 [Chicho's] locations. Maybe we’ll have more trees by then. It will be a little more spread out [and convenient for people to participate] and not just here at the Oceanfront," owner, Matt Potter said.

The trees are being collected until January 9. If you are unable to bring your tree to the business on Pacific Avenue but live nearby, volunteers will pick it up for you.

Before you drop them off, make sure no ornaments, lights, tinsel or other decorations are attached.

For more information, call Matt Potter at 757-777-5820, Rory Schindel at 804-931-6410 or Victor Enriquez at 757-288-4241. You can also reach out to Chicho's Pizza and Skimmunity House on Facebook.

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