Natural Features & Ecosystems

American beachgrass blows in the wind near the shore

Diverse Natural Features

Fire Island National Seashore consists of 26 miles (42 km) of Fire Island itself (See Park Map), and includes beaches, dunes, interdune scrub, maritime forest, and wetland habitats. The Seashore's William Floyd Estate, on mainland Long Island at Mastic Beach, protects additional habitat as it stretches from the tidal marshes along the Narrow and Moriches bays to the woodlands and grounds around the old Manor House, almost 1½ miles inland and at elevations as high as 15 feet above mean sea level.

While Fire Island is not a uniformly natural barrier island system, a variety of natural features and ecosystems are managed by the National Park Service at Fire Island National Seashore.

Protecting Coastal Habitat

The National Park Service is responsible for critical coastal habitat for many rare and endangered species, as well as migratory corridors for birds, sea turtles and marine mammals. Within its boundaries, the Seashore also protects vital coastal wetlands, essential to water quality, fisheries, and the biological diversity of coastal, nearshore and terrestrial environments.

These resources are valuable economically and environmentally. Fisheries, recreation, navigation, clean water, protection from storm damages—these are a few of the values placed on Fire Island National Seashore's natural features and ecosystems.


A Dynamic Environment

The chain of barrier islands and sand spits that includes Fire Island is a sand-starved system, dominated by highly dynamic processes and struggling to maintain its integrity in the face of sea-level rise and storms.

Waves, tides, currents, overwash, barrier breaching and relative sea level change are all natural processes that are critical to the formation and evolution of barrier islands, beaches, sand dunes, sand flats, lagoons, and vegetated wetlands.

Last updated: April 30, 2015

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