A few weeks ago I took a day trip to Smith Point on the western end of Fire Island National Seashore, which runs along the south shore of Long Island, NY. Fire Island is a barrier island that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Great South Bay and other smaller bays. It is about 30 miles long, 26 of which are federally protected by the National Park Service.
Despite it being less than a mile wide, Fire Island’s beaches feel vast and the dunes (some of which top off at 40 feet high) are my favorite spots to take photos. There are only two vehicle access points – the 17 preexisting residential communities on the island are mostly connected and navigable by meandering boardwalks. And Fire Island’s below sea level forests are completely unique to the Northeast. According to the NPS: Fire Island’s Sunken Forest is a very 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 in 2001 as “globally rare” or “G1G2 S1” meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this assemblage of plants throughout the world.
In most recent news, there’s a big debate between island and bay homeowners, fishermen, and environmental groups over a breach/new inlet formed on Fire Island following Hurricane Sandy last October.