• Miles of uncrowded white sandy beaches extend to the horizon, separating the clear blue ocean and undulating grass-covered dunes.

    Fire Island

    National Seashore New York

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  • New Backcountry Camping procedures

    Reservations for required permits must be obtained through Recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Davis Park or access points west, and involve a 2½ to 10 mile hike. More »

Nature & Science

Nationally Significant Natural Resources
Fire Island is a barrier island that stretches east to west off the southern coast of Long Island, New York. Approximately 32 miles long and averaging less than a mile wide, the island is bordered by Fire Island Inlet to the west and Moriches Inlet to the east, and is separated from Long Island by the Great South Bay, Patchogue Bay, Bellport Bay, Narrow Bay, and Moriches Bay. To the south is the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Under Public Law 88-587, Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) was established on September 11, 1964, "for the purpose of conserving and preserving for the use of future generations relatively unspoiled and undeveloped beaches, dunes and other natural features…."
 

Fire Island National Seashore consists of 26 miles of Fire Island itself (See Park Map). The Seashore encompasses 19,579 acres of marine and terrestrial property within its boundaries, including Smith Point County Park located at the eastern end within the boundaries of the National Seashore, and the pre-existing communities on Fire Island.

Approximately 15,000 acres of the Park are submerged in the Great South Bay or Atlantic Ocean.

The boundary of Fire Island National Seashore extends approximately 4,000 feet into the bay, and approximately 1,000 feet seaward of the ocean shoreline. The park includes several islands, sand flats, and wetlands landward of the of the barrier island.

 
Tangle of sassafras and shad blow tree trunks and branches.

Some of the American holly trees in the Sunken Forest are estimated to be 250-300 years old.

A Globally Rare Ecosystem
Unique resources include the Sunken Forest, a federal wilderness area, and eel grass beds. The Sunken Forest on Fire Island is a 16 hectare maritime holly forest occurring behind the secondary dune, one of only a few mature maritime forests in the New York area and the northernmost holly-dominated maritime forest on the Atlantic barrier island chain. The Nature Conservancy listed this community type as globally imperiled (G2), and in 2001 the New York Natural Heritage Program ranked this maritime holly forest as "globally rare" or "G1G2 S1," meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this assemblage of plants throughout the world.

Both federal and New York State endangered species either breed or germinate in the park, along with eleven other species of concern.
 
Expanse of green lawn in front of the William Floyd Estate manor house, flanked by tall leafy trees.

Step back in time at the William Floyd Estate, where architectural features and artifacts from three centuries of American life have been carefully preserved.

The William Floyd Estate
The William Floyd Estate, a unit of Fire Island National Seashore located across Great South Bay on the Long Island mainland, is quite different from the Seashore's barrier island habitat. The William Floyd Estate is 65% forested, 25% wetlands including salt marsh, 5% open space and 5% developed around the estate house area. Wildlife found here include the eastern box turtle, spring peeper tree frog, white-tailed deer, great horned owl, and a variety of water birds and songbirds.
 

Protecting Fire Island's Natural Resources
The National Park Service is mandated to preserve and protect the natural resources, processes, systems, and values of the units of the National Park System in an unimpaired condition to perpetuate their inherent integrity and to provide present and future generations with the opportunity to enjoy them. Fire Island National Seashore's natural resources are managed according to the criteria found in the 2006 Management Policies, Chapter 4.

 

In order to preserve and protect natural resources in parks for future generations, NPS managers must be able to evaluate current management and restoration practices, recognize changes and trends in the condition of the resources, and anticipate future threats to those resources.

The National Park Service has implemented a natural resource inventory and monitoring program for the parks. Fire Island National Seashore is grouped in the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network with seven other NPS areas that have similar natural resources. Each unit contains critical coastal habitat and protects vital coastal wetlands which are essential to water quality, fisheries, and the biological diversity.

Did You Know?

Close view of sand showing bands of colors: white, dark grey, and reddish purple.

New York's state gem—the garnet—may be found among the sands that comprise Fire Island's beaches. Due to differences in size and weight of the grains of sand, you may sometimes see ribbons of garnet and magnatite among the white quartz, as the sand settles on the beach. More...