More Park Facilities Reopen During May 2013
Watch Hill and Sailors Haven marinas open May 10. Limited ferry service from Sayville to Sailors Haven resumes May 13 and ferries from Patchogue to Watch Hill start on May 18. Remaining park facilities to reopen by May 25, 2013. More »
Nature & Science
Fire Island's nationally significant natural resources created a foundation for the establishment of Fire Island National Seashore.
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 (42 km) of Fire Island itself (See Park Map). The Seashore encompasses 19,579 acres (7,832 hectares) 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. (See Park Statistics.)
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.
The character, or physiognomy, of Fire Island is typical of Atlantic barrier islands that grade from a primary dune along the ocean to salt marsh along the bay. The dominant vegetation includes pitch pine (Pinus rigida), beach grass (Ammophilia breviligulata), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), bayberry (M. pensylvanica), shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), and common greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia). This particular composition of vegetation is typical of the island except within the various communities where residents have planted non-indigenous vegetation.
The percentages of terrestrial habitats found at Fire Island National Seashore include: 10% forested and 40% wetlands, 25% open (beach, swale and fields), 25% developed either by the National Park Service or the 17 local communities on the island. Of the submerged portion, 80% is in the Great South Bay and 20% is the Atlantic Ocean. All existing habitats within the Seashore are listed as threatened.
Unique resources include the Sunken Forest, a federal wilderness area (520 hectares), and eel grass beds. The Sunken Forest on Fire Island is a 16 hectare maritime oak-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.
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.
A series of Science Synthesis Papers was published in 2005 to support the preparation of a General Management Plan for Fire Island National Seashore.
Additional Natural Resources Reports and Technical Reports are also produced by the National Park Service.
Other recent publications provide valuable background information to help you better understand the resources and natural processes of Fire Island National Seashore.
Additional comprehensive research and studies have been conducted by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify, evaluate and recommend long-term solutions for hurricane and storm damage reduction for homes and businesses within the floodplain extending along 83-miles of ocean and bay shorelines from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point. This study area includes the shoreline of Fire Island National Seashore.
Did You Know?
In 1790, William Floyd - one of New York's four signers of the Declaration of Independence - was the largest slave holder in Suffolk County, New York, at one time. The 1790 U. S. Census indicates that 14 slaves lived on his Mastic plantation. More...