Liquor-laden parties will soon be barred in two tiny patches of Fire Island National Seashore, where hordes of summer drinkers have held boozy gatherings to the dismay of local communities and law enforcement.
Beginning Friday, the National Park Service plans to prohibit the consumption of alcohol on the federal beaches between the three Islip communities of Atlantique, Robbins Rest and Corneille Estates/Summer Club, which already follow town bans on alcohol on their beaches.
Officials said the prohibition is meant to keep law enforcement consistent across the waterfront, instead of having partyers move from the town beaches into two 300-foot-wide national park beaches, where it has been legal to drink alcohol.
"There were 500 to 1,000 people" at the spots on weekends, chief ranger Duane Michael said Friday, before a news conference in Bay Shore announcing the policy.
Linked through social media, young daytrippers have flocked to the unnamed beaches for a couple of years -- clambering over fragile dunes, leaving mounds of litter and openly urinating, Michael said.
Park staff would spend up to four hours cleaning litter and human waste, he said.
While rangers plan to post signs warning about the new alcohol policy, Michael said they will try to educate people before issuing tickets, which can carry $225 in fines.
"We want safe, fun beaches," said Islip Councilman John Cochrane at the news conference, adding that some drinkers "have done unthinkable things there in front of homeowners."
Cochrane cited the recent weekend and holiday ban on alcohol consumption at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. "Things have gotten out of control. We're clamping down," he said.
Don Sussman, a Summer Club resident, said Fire Island has become a "magnet" for people who "consume an enormous amount of alcohol."
Danielle Rella, program specialist at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said if visitors behave responsibly, perhaps the right to enjoy alcohol on the beach will be restored, just as Jones Beach this summer has allowed alcohol "in a controlled manner."Sussman added that the ban isn't intended to discourage visitors but to help retain the beauty of Fire Island beaches. "We want to keep them as a treasure," he said. "If they're full of litter, people won't come."