Pet Restrictions in Effect March 15 through Labor Day
Dogs/other pets (except for service animals) are not allowed in the wilderness or on any of Fire Island's federally owned oceanfront beaches from March 15 through Labor Day to help protect threatened and endangered beach-nesting shorebirds. More »
Backcountry Camping Permit and Access Procedures
Reservations for required permits must be obtained through www.recreation.gov. Due to the breach at Old Inlet, access to both east and west wilderness camping zones must now be from Watch Hill or points west, and involve a 1½ to 8 mile hike. More »
Attention Watch Hill Ferry Passengers
Due to channel conditions, delay or cancellation of ferry service between Patchogue and Watch Hill may occur. For updated ferry schedule information, please call 631-475-1665.
Wilderness Management Plan
1983 Wilderness Management Plan
The Wilderness Act was signed into law on September 3, 1964, a few days before Fire Island National Seashore was established on September 11 of that same year.
When Fire Island National Seashore was created, the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to acquire property by condemnation in an approximately eight-mile area from the eastern boundary of Davis Park to the western boundary of Smith Point County Park. Owners of property in this zone on July 1, 1963, were given the option of a life tenancy or up to a 25-year tenancy after selling their property to the National Park Service. Both this portion of Fire Island and the Sunken Forest area were afforded special protection from the incursion of roads and ecologically incompatible uses by the park's enabling legislation.
Fire Island National Seashore's 1977 General Management Plan provided direction for the planning and use of the High Dune Management Unit (see page 27). These objectives included protection of natural qualities, provision for low-density recreational uses, minimal facilities and programs to interpret the outstanding natural resources. The 1977 GMP management objectives also specified removing man-made structures, managing the unit as a primitive area, and maintaining the primitive qualities of the unit so as to not preclude its potential wilderness classification.
A preliminary Wilderness proposal was reviewed in the spring of 1980. With strong support of the Fire Island Wilderness Committee, in December of 1980 Congress designated 1,363 acres of the Seashore as the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, named in honor of a nine-term local Congressman.
The Wilderness Management Plan was released in November 1983, followed by a Wilderness Camping Policy in 1984.
The last of the 25-year leaseholders sadly left Skunk Hollow in 1992, and the old homes and were removed soon thereafter. Artesian wells in the Wilderness were capped in the early 2000s. The former jeep trail, “Burma Road,” has gradually become overgrown; it was trimmed in early 2006 to help maintain the hiking trail.
Overnight use of the Fire Island Wilderness has grown significantly over the past decade.
Fire Island National Seashore has begun the development of a new General Management Plan, or GMP, which will provide an opportunity for public review and feedback as new management objectives are developed. Your input is greatly appreciated.
To learn more about the National Wilderness Preservation System, visit the following sites:
Did You Know?
The 4-day Fire Island Trek began as a special event in September, 2004, in celebration of Fire Island National Seashore's 40th anniversary. The program has been continued as a means to showcase the variety of resources and recreational and educational opportunities that exist on Fire Island. More...