Fire Island's Sunken Forest is a rare ecological community. The Maritime Holly Forest is only found behind well-established sand dunes along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. It is one of six forest types recognized in the National Vegetation Classification System. According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, this state's maritime holly forest was ranked as "globally rare," meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this assemblage of plants throughout the world.
Today you can easily visit this rare habitat from May to October, when ferries run from Sayville to Sailors Haven. Throughout the year you may stroll along the boardwalk, although facilities (restrooms) and other services are not available when ferry service is not operating.
The Sunken Forest Preserve
In May 1966, the Sunken Forest Preserve, Inc. donated the property to the recently established (1964) Fire Island National Seashore, under the condition that the property shall always be maintained in its natural state and operated as a sanctuary, and that no public road or highway shall be built through it.
Ecological Studies of the Sunken Forest, Fire Island National Seashore, New York
Sunken Forest Trail Guide (1977, revised 1988)
Last updated: November 21, 2016