Sand dunes and beaches are extreme environments. Dune plants "live on the edge" and can be very susceptible to impact from humans.
Treading Lightly on Sand Dunes
Sand dunes are fragile and our footprints can damage dune grass.
When hiking or backpacking in areas with sand dunes a minimum impact approach must be taken to protect the fragile dune environment. Trampled dune vegetation can take a very long time to recover. Unfortunately sand dunes can't be recreated once they are gone.
Dune grasses are important because they stop the momentum of blowing sand. Sand hits the grasses and slows down or stops moving. Dune grasses are pioneers and create an environment where other dune plants can grow easier.
Minimum Impact Dune Hiking Tips
Stay on durable surfaces (bare sand) when dune hiking.
Hike between the dune grasses.
Avoid climbing up or down steep dune slopes if possible.