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Picture with sand dune and dune grasses in the foreground, evergreens and sky in the background, taken from a high point above the Oregon Dunes

Dune: The 'terraformed' Oregon dunes that inspired Frank Herbert's sci-fi epic

By Nathaniel Scharping, Features correspondent, BBC News

A sand hill from a high point of view over the Oregon dunes, by Esteban Martinena

When Frank Herbert saw how ecologists had manipulated the sands of Oregon's coast, it would influence his sci-fi novel Dune – but in the present day, that human intervention has triggered unexpected consequences.

Just south of the town of Florence, Oregon, a strip of sand dunes stretches between the Pacific Ocean and a thick forest of pines and spruces. These shifting hills are constantly reforming – ridges last mere days, entire mountains of sand melt away and reform each year. It's said that you cannot step in the same river twice. Here, you cannot walk the same dune twice, either.

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