Fire Island

National Seashore - New York

Fire Island National Seashore protects a 26-mile (42 km) section of Fire Island, an approximately 30-mile (48 km) long barrier island separated from Long Island by the Great South Bay. The island is part of New York State's Suffolk County. Only two bridges lead to Fire Island and the national seashore and there are no public roads within the seashore itself. The Robert Moses Causeway leads to Robert Moses State Park on the western end of Fire Island while the William Floyd Parkway leads to the eastern end of the island. The seashore can also be accessed by private boat or by ferry from the communities of Patchogue, Sayville, and Bay Shore on Long Island.



Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS). Fire Island National Seashore protects a 26-mile (42 km) section of Fire Island, an approximately 30-mile (48 km) long barrier island separated from Long Island by the Great South Bay. The island is part of New York State's Suffolk County. Only two bridges lead to Fire Island and the national seashore and there are no public roads within the seashore itself. The Robert Moses Causeway leads to Robert Moses State Park on the western end of Fire Island while the William Floyd Parkway leads to the eastern end of the island. The seashore can also be accessed by private boat or by ferry from the communities of Patchogue, Sayville, and Bay Shore on Long Island. Immerse yourself in an enchanting collage of coastal life and history. Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks and glimpses of wildlife, Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals and people for centuries. Far from the pressure of nearby big-city life, dynamic barrier island beaches offer solitude, camaraderie, and spiritual renewal. Fire Island National Seashore Headquarters are located in Patchogue, New York, on Long Island. Fire Island National Seashore Headquarters: Via Long Island Expressway/I-495: Take Exit 61 (Patchogue-Holbrook Road) to Waverly Ave. Head south on Waverly Ave to West Ave. Turn right onto Laurel Street. Via NY-27: Take Exit 52 onto Waverly Ave. Head south on Waverly Ave to West Ave. Turn right onto Laurel Street. Fire Island Lighthouse The Fire Island Lighthouse is on the western part of Fire Island National Seashore, adjacent to Robert Moses State Park. The Fire Island Lighthouse area offers exhibits, a nature trail, interpretive programs and curriculum-based fourth grade education programs (school groups by reservation only). There is walking access to the Lighthouse Beach (no lifeguards). Take Robert Moses Causeway south to its end. Circle the Robert Moses State Park water tower, then proceed east to Parking Field #5. There is a parking fee at certain times of the year. On busy summer weekends, you should expect a delay getting to the park due to the high volume of traffic. Park on the east end of the parking lot and follow the boardwalk to the lighthouse (¾-mile walk). Sailors Haven Visitor Center In addition to a one and a half mile long boardwalk trail through the Sunken Forest, a globally rare maritime holly forest, Sailors Haven also offers a visitor center; snack bar/convenience store/gift shop; picnic tables and grills; lifeguarded beach (summer only); a 45-slip public marina with electricity, water and a free boat pump-out station; restrooms and showers. Sailors Haven is accessible seasonally by public ferry via the Sayville Ferry Service on Long Island, by private boat, or on foot from neighboring Fire Island communities. There is no car access directly to Sailors Haven. Watch Hill Visitor Center The Watch Hill area offers a visitor center, family campground, ranger-led interpretive programs (including guided kayak trips), a 175-slip transient marina with water, electric, and pump-out station; a small convenience store, snack bar, self-guiding nature trail, restrooms, and lifeguarded beach (summer only). Watch Hill is accessible seasonally by ferry from the Watch Hill Ferry Terminal in Patchogue, New York, by private boat, or by foot from Davis Park and other Fire Island communities. There is no direct car access to Watch Hill. Wilderness Visitor Center The Fire Island Wilderness Visitor Center includes a ranger contact station, 360-degree view of barrier island, Eastern National sales outlet, and exhibit space. Permits for recreational driving and waterfowl hunting are issued in season and park ranger-led programs are offered year-round. Hiking trails into the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness are also accessible from here. Wilderness Visitor Center: Take William Floyd Parkway (Route 46) to Smith Point County Park for access to the Wilderness Visitor Center, a small hexagonal building on the right as you are headed south. Parking is available in the Smith Point parking lot just to the east/on the left. William Floyd Estate The William Floyd Estate, which was authorized as an addition to Fire Island National Seashore in 1965, is located on the mainland of Long Island in Mastic Beach. Visitors can explore the Estate grounds, trails, twelve outbuildings, family cemetery, and enslaved crosses, no fee required. Currently, the Old Mastic House is closed to the public for renovations. Visitors are welcome to explore the Estate grounds. Take Exit 68 from the Long Island Expressway (I-495) or Exit 58S from Sunrise Highway (NY-27E) onto the William Floyd Parkway (Route 46). Take Route 46 approximately three miles south to Havenwood Drive traffic light. Make a left onto Havenwood Drive which turns into Neighborhood Road. Continue approximately 2 miles east to end of Neighborhood Road. Turn left onto Park Drive. The park entrance is located approximately 1/4 mile on your right. Backcountry Camping in the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness Under the stars, near the sound of the surf, waking to a chorus of song birds, camping on Fire Island within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness can be a memorable experience. This wilderness camping experience is available by permit only. Permits are limited and issued for specific nights and number of persons within the group. A maximum length of stay is three consecutive nights. Beach camping may be available from March 15 through Labor Day. Wilderness Camping Permit Fee 20.00 A $20.00 fee is assessed for each primitive wilderness ("backcountry") camping permit. Winter Backpacking in the Otis Pike Wilderness A man with a large backpack hikes through a sandy beach wilderness Backcountry camping can be challenging, but it is the perfect way to experience the Otis Pike Wilderness. Watch Hill Family Campground The family campground at Watch Hill provides a camping experience like no other. Family Campground at Watch Hill A landscape of lush green is bisected by a boardwalk trail meandering into trees. The family campground at Watch Hill is ideal for families looking to rough it but aren't ready to hike into the backcountry. View of Fire Island Lighthouse from Great South Bay The Fire Island Lighthouse against a vibrant sunset. People from around the world come to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse. Salt marsh trail at Watch Hill A boardwalk trail through lush green salt marsh glistens in sunset light. A boardwalk trail welcomes visitors to a salt marsh at Watch Hill. The Wilderness Visitor Center in winter A brown hexagonal building covered in snow stands behind a beachside dune. The Wilderness Visitor Center welcomes visitors to the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness on the east end of Fire Island. Old Mastic House at William Floyd Estate A view from a meadow of the historic Old Mastic House A view of the Old Mastic House from the grounds of the William Floyd Estate Fire Island Wilderness Grasses and shrubs cover the undulating backdune habitat of Fire Island's wilderness. Unparalleled opportunities for solitude and recreation can be found in New York State's only federally designated wilderness, the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. View of primary dune from Sunken Forest overlook View of ocean and primary dune with boardwalk winding up to the Sunken Forest overlook. Get one of the best boardwalk views on a walk through the Sunken Forest - a more than 350 year-old, globally rare ecosystem. Shark Awareness Before heading into the ocean, review some safety information to further minimize the chances of a shark encounter. Shark and fish in the blue ocean waters Defending America’s Coasts The outbreak of World War I in 1914 required commissioned vessels, or cutters, of the Coast Guard to enforce US neutrality. Upon the declaration of war on Germany, Coast Guard vessels and sailors were transferred to the control of the Navy. The Coast Guard, created in 1915 and its predecessor, the Revenue Cutter Service, established in 1790, had long been responsible for governing the movement of vessels in American waters, as well as where vessels could anchor Historic image of the USS San Diego in 1916, a naval ship. 2016 Recipients: George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service Learn the invaluable contributions of the 2016 Hartzog winners, celebrating excellence in volunteerism. Group of school kids pointing at things in a marsh area White-tailed Deer Movement Study In 2014 the National Park Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and the State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry, began a White-tailed Deer Movement Study on Fire Island. In phases over the course of three years, researchers will fit female deer with small, GPS-enabled radio-collars to track how the deer move about the island. A female white-tailed deer with a GPS-enabled radio tracking collar on Fire Island. Salt Marsh Monitoring Jim Lynch works for the National Park Service Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network as a coastal biologist and spends much of his time traveling to national parks along the Atlantic Coast to monitor salt marshes. These sensitive but important tidal wetlands have been vanishing in the last four decades due to pressure from development and sea level rise. Jim Lynch measures elevation changes in a salt marsh. Designing the Parks: Learning in Action The Designing the Parks program is not your typical internship. Each year since 2013, this program at the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation has introduced a cohort of college students and recent graduates to NPS design and planning professions through projects related to cultural landscape stewardship. In the internships, made possible by partner organizations, participants focus on an in-depth project that directly engages with a national park unit. A group of young people stand on forest trail and listen to two maintenance employees Keys to Tomorrow: Chris Gobler studies storm impacts, resilience, and restoration opportunities in coastal parks After Hurricane Sandy, there was noticeable effects to the bodies of water surrounding Long Island and NYC, including changes in color and clarity. With NPS funding, Dr. Dhris Gobler of Stony Brook University examined water quality change in these coastal ecosystems and its effects on keystone species such as shellfish. Ultimately, Gobler hopes to refine our understandings of complex storm impacts and illuminate sound options for restoration and resilience. The research vessel cuts through waves at sunset in Jamaica Bay. Sunken Forest Monitoring Jordan Raphael, National Park Service Biologist, has conducted research that demonstrates how pressures from erosion, sea-level rise, and white-tailed deer are threatening a globally rare ecosystem, Fire Island National Seashore’s Sunken Forest. Boardwalk in the Sunken Forest on Fire Island. The Fire Island Wilderness Breach: Shifting Shorelines and Shoals Breaches are channels connecting ocean to bay which form during powerful storms. These natural barrier island features can come and go over time. On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy created a breach within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, a federally-designated wilderness area on the eastern end of Fire Island National Seashore. Aerial image of the breach from Hurricane Sandy at Fire Island. Studying Fire Island's Shifting Shoreline Dr. Cheryl Hapke, a coastal geologist from the United States Geological Survey, has studied the shorelines of Fire Island for nearly two decades. Dr. Hapke’s work helps the National Park Service understand how the shape and position of barrier islands and barrier island features change over time. A scientists stands on the beach with a GPS tool on a pole. Protecting Coastal Treasures from Future Floods Protecting coastal treasures like lighthouses, forts, and statues requires an understanding of the precise location of these resources. New elevation markers will help the National Park Service continue to protect coastal parks threatened by flooding and sea level rise. Two men use tools to install elevation markers in sandy soil. Vegetation Studies One of the earliest reports on the vegetation of Fire Island's Sunken Forest was provided by Robert Cushman Murphy in his 1933 article for Natural History Magazine, August on Fire Island Beach. In 1953, Oakleigh Thorne, II, provided additional documentation of vegetation in The Sunken Forest of Fire Island Beach, N.Y., his master's thesis for Yale University. Field biologists identify vegetation in a plot within the Sunken Forest. Bat Population Monitoring at Fire Island National Seashore In 2018, researchers determined that northern long-eared bats were reproducing at Fire Island National Seashore. This rare species is protected by the Endangered Species Act and has been decimated by white-nose syndrome. The seashore is currently working to better understand its bat communities and determine what habitats are most critical for bat conservation. A biologist examining the wing of a bat. The Fire Island Wilderness Breach: Ecological Resilience in the Great South Bay Change, including dramatic change caused by powerful storms, is constant across the complex and vital ecosystem of Great South Bay. Because everything within an ecosystem is interconnected, even small changes in the environment can produce ripple effects throughout the entire system.  Aerial view of the breach on Fire Island. Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network Species Spotlight: Eastern Mud Turtle Uncommon to the northeast United States, the Eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) has found shelter in the wetlands of Fire Island, NY. Through preserving lands that support amphibian and reptile diversity and continued monitoring, Fire Island National Seashore continues to play a roll in protecting this species under pressures of human development, habitat fragmentation, and pollution. An turtle hides inside its shell atop a bed of dry pine needles. Latino Conservation Week Celebration Day 2019 at Fire Island National Seashore A celebration of culture and community, more than 100 people gathered at Fire Island National Seashore in New York for the park’s Latino Conservation Day on July 20. Open to everyone, the National Park Service (NPS) at Fire Island National Seashore and the Friends of Fire Island teamed up for this day of play on the beach to celebrate the area’s Latino communities and invite them to explore the park in their backyard...and across the bay. NPS Volunteer talking on a mic in a marina setting Studying Shifting Shorelines at Northeast Coastal Parks Coastal national parks have long been a living laboratory for shoreline scientists to study how storms and other processes like erosion and littoral drift affect the coast and the structures perched along the water. Learn more about the science of shifting shorelines. View of beach and dunes. Mapping Underwater Habitats With so much diversity and value in underwater habitats, it’s no wonder the National Park Service undertook a multi-park effort to map the relatively uncharted shallow waters in and around coastal national parks in the Northeast. Learn more and see what lies beneath. A woman leans over the edge of a boat with a submerged habitat mapping tool. Studying Salt Marsh Change A marsh resiliency model was developed to help managers protect salt marshes at coastal parks in the Northeast. Jamaica Bay at sunset. Tracking Tides and Breach Change Dr. Charles Flagg of Stony Brook University is currently studying the impacts of Fire Island’s wilderness breach on water circulation and salinity distribution in the Great South Bay. In addition to this work, Dr. Flagg maps changes in the shape of the breach through aerial photography. A pilot looks out over a barrier island from a plane. NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Fire Island National Seashore, New York Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. [Site Under Development] aerial view of barrier island Swimming in Fire Island National Seashore With its rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks, and glimpses of wildlife, New York’s Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals, and people for centuries. Far from the pressure of nearby city life, the dynamic barrier island beaches of the national seashore offer solitude, camaraderie, and renewal. Bat Projects in Parks: Fire Island National Seashore Bats can call seashores home, too! See what Fire Island National Seashore learned while monitoring for bats. A boardwalk into a wooded area in Fire Island National Seashore Portable Recreation Path at Fire Island National Seashore Fire Island National Seashore uses a portable recreation path that can be quickly rolled up prior to a storm to help mitigate storm damage to park infrastructure. Fire Island National Seashore features a portable recreation path The Fire Island Wilderness Breach: Water Quality and Levels North of Fire Island, Great South, Narrow, and Moriches Bays form an estuarine system - a place where fresh water draining from Long Island mixes with saltwater from the ocean. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, this estuarine system had bay and ocean water exchanged through two inlets: Fire Island and Moriches Inlets. Aerial view of the breach on Fire Island. After Sandy, National Parks get storm-ready: Park scientists muster elevation data and enhance information systems to prepare for future storms Dr. Peter August, a University of Rhode Island professor who specializes in GIS, has collaborated with the National Park Service (NPS) for over 20 years. After Hurricane Sandy, August led the team that created the very first bytes of GIS data for several National Parks in the northeast coastal region. They gathered essential elevation data and established a data management system so that coastal parks will be better prepared for future storms. August uses laser rangefinder to determine the distance to an object in the field. This Park’s Personality: Jordan Raphael and the quest to preserve the Sunken Forest Few people have studied the Sunken Forest as closely as Jordan Raphael. For over a decade, his quest has been to discover what is happening to all of the ancient hollies at Fire Island National Seashore. researchers wearing white suits look at GPS equipment in a forest. Films to Promote Unity and Healing: Filmmaker Sarah Gulick engages people in the science behind resilience In the summer of 2015, Sarah Gulick traveled to Fire Island National Seashore and parts of Gateway National Recreation Area to see some early traces of recovery and signs of resilience following Hurricane Sandy and to document NPS’s efforts to mitigate future storm impacts. Her mission: to create a a pair of short films that document the work of researchers who are contributing to federal projects launched in response to Hurricane Sandy. researchers wearing hip boots stand with camera equipment while in a marsh Exploring the Woods under the Water: Dr. Bradley Peterson examines the resilience of Great South Bay ecologies after Hurricane Sandy As part of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, scientists efficiently track and assess how an ecosystem changes over time, across extensive areas, and in response to disturbances and stressors, whether pollution, storms, sea level rise, or climate change. After Hurricane Sandy, Dr. Peterson began his research monitoring water quality and the vitality of seagrasses in parts of Great South Bay that fall within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore. Brad Peterson wearing SCUBA gear in Great South Bay This Park’s Personality: Interpretive ranger Sonia Taiani brings shoreline dynamics and post-Sandy resilience research at Fire Island National Seashore to life for visitors Within Fire Island National Seashore, thousands of people make their homes in 17 private communities. Park managers rely on the cooperation of private citizens to care for park resources through collaborative stewardship. Through this collaboration, NPS relies on interpretive rangers, like Sonia Taiani, to share information about scientific research in National Parks and to clarify for the public what this research reveals about the health of the park’s natural resources. a ranger stands by the ocean wearing NPS uniform True to Her Roots: One woman’s passion for conservation becomes a reality in her native Rhode Island Jessica Cressman began researching salt marshes while working towards a graduate degree in environmental science & management at the University of Rhode Island (URI). During the summer months, she joined a team of NPS researchers with the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network at Fire Island National Seashore to collect data to track how salt marshes keep up with rising sea levels, and to determine which species of vegetation and nekton are most affected. a field crew member yanks the ropes to close a fish net on a salt marsh Sounding Seafloor Habitats: Researchers use sonar to map the underwater resources of four National Parks Researchers, including Monique LaFrance, take part in a landmark mission in four coastal National Parks to map thousands of acres of underwater habitats that have never been surveyed. Together, the four habitat-mapping teams will create maps to help coastal parks in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland better prepare for damaging storms and sea level rise. researcher with equipment aboard a research vessel Pollinators - Monarch butterfly More than beautiful, monarch butterflies contribute to the health of our planet. While feeding on nectar, they pollinate many types of wildflowers, yet one of the greatest threats to Monarch populations is loss of habitat. A Monarch clings to an orange flower And This is Just the Beginning! Jhulian Gutierrez’s Start at Fire Island and His Career My name is Jhulian Stanley Gutierrez, I am Fire Island National Seashore’s 2020 Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) intern. My internship is a partnership program with the National Park Service, Environment for the Americas, and Hispanic Access Foundation. Day 6 of my internship, I had met National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela and Superintendent Alexcy Romero. Portrait of Jhulian Gutierrez Series: Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network Species Spotlight Learn more about species that call national parks within the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN) home! a peregrine falcon takes flight from the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore. The Day We Celebrate Fire Island National Seashore welcomes the Fourth of July at the ancestral home of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Outside Science (inside parks): Nesting Shorebirds and Horseshoe Crabs in Fire Island National Seashore This episode takes us to Fire Island National Seashore where interns work to protect nesting shorebirds and horseshoe crabs. a small fluffy bird stands on skinny legs Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios. Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background Pollinators in peril? A multipark approach to evaluating bee communities in habitats vulnerable to effects from climate change Can you name five bees in your park? Ten? Twenty? Will they all be there 50 years from now? We know that pollinators are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems—from managed almond orchards to wild mountain meadows. We have heard about dramatic population declines of the agricultural workhorse, the honey bee. Yet what do we really know about the remarkable diversity and resilience of native bees in our national parks? Southeastern polyester bee, Colletes titusensis. Outside Science (inside parks): Bats & Beetles The Outside Science film crew spent some time at Fire Island National Seashore with Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns tracking bats and fighting pine beetles. Student examines a bat Harmful Algal Blooms: Science to Support Solutions from Shore to Shore The 11th U.S. Symposium on Harmful Algae, held October 23-28, in Albany, New York, gathered scientists from a range of disciplines and natural resource managers to discuss Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey scientists presented on HAB science and management in national parks. six panelists stand in front of a projection screen Bats Are in Danger. Here’s How and Why We’re Helping Them. Bats are amazing animals and a formidable force against insect pests, but a nasty fungal disease is killing them. A coordinated national response brings hope. GIF of a bat with big ears in a gloved hand, rotating its head and opening and closing its mouth.

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