Sand Dunes

View of primary dune and ocean from middle of barrier island.

Dunes on Fire Island

Some of Fire Island's primary dunes east of Watch Hill are as high as 40 feet. Most of the primary dune line on the island, however, is much smaller. Behind some of the primary dunes lies a series of crescent-shaped secondary dunes, with a low interdunal swale habitat in between.

Dunes are critical to the health and sustainability of sandy beaches. The primary dune ridge (foredunes) lies adjacent to the shoreline. Secondary dune fields may lie further inland. Dunes may form anywhere that eolian processes (wind transportation) occur.

Dunes provide much-needed protection to back-barrier environments (including human development) against severe wave, wind, and storm events. In addition, these geomorphic features provide critical habitat to a variety of migratory birds and mammals.


Dune vegetation is very important for the formation and stabilization of dune complexes on barrier islands. Both the root system and exposed vegetation restrict sand movement around plants, helping to secure the dune.

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Mailing Address:

120 Laurel Street
Patchogue, NY 11772


(631) 687-4750
Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Closed on federal holidays.

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