This time of year, when the remaining needles are brittle and brown and the colored lights have been packed in the attic for months, most once-live Christmas trees are buried in the compost heap or long since ground into mulch.

But at 3 local beaches, the evergreens that quickly start to lose their appeal after December 25 have taken on new value and purpose as a kind of natural Band-Aid for battered dunes. At Mitchell Beach in New London, Waterford Town Beach and Old Black Point Beach in East Lyme, dozens of discarded Christmas trees lay at the tops and waterside edges of dunes flattened by Superstorm Sandy, capturing new sand and helping hold what was left after the storm.

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The Day


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