GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — 45 students are putting down 3,000 plants to protect the newly renovated Romar Beach Public Access parking lot Monday in Gulf Shores.

“It’s awesome being out here with everyone because we get to learn more about it. It’s easier when it’s hands-on. You get to know more and kind of understand it better,” said senior Brody Cobb.

Students from Gulf Shores Middle School and Gulf Shores High School are working with Dune Doctors to install a variety of native plants to stabilize and keep the parking lot from eroding.

“Certain plants have these really, really complex root systems that grow upwards of 40ft deep into the sand in 50 different directions so they interlock and create this really complex web,” said Amanda Post with Dune Doctors.

If the edges of the pavement aren’t stabilized with native vegetation wind can erode sand from beneath the new asphalt which could weaken the foundation of the parking lot. The renovations began in April with expanded parking and a new restroom facility. Officials want to make sure it all stays intact.

“I think kids always learn better by doing, rather than just hearing it or listening to it. I think that this is an experience that they will never forget,” said Tori Erdossy, a 6th-grade and 8th-grade science teacher.

Of course, hurricanes are the biggest threat to our coastline and that’s why Dune Doctors and the Gulf State Park are partnering together to teach students about the effects storms can have on places like this.

They’re also learning about the beach mouse and how something so small can help protect dunes which provide a first line of defense. In the spring of next year, these students will come back to the beach to pass on the knowledge they’re learning today to younger students while working on a different project.

“We’re training them and getting them ready to inherit the coastline so they know what to do, and they can keep the work, that we’ve set up, going,” Post explained.