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New management plan for Fire Island National Seashore

An aerial shot of Fire Island.

An aerial shot of Fire Island. Credit: Doug Kuntz

A new long-range management plan for the Fire Island National Seashore stresses a “collaborative stewardship” with local governments and communities on the barrier island.

The National Park Service hopes these partnerships will foster coordinated solutions to issues ranging from overdevelopment to climate change over the next two decades.

“The issue of collaborative stewardship is probably the most important piece of the plan,” said Chris Soller, national seashore superintendent.

Soller aims to to balance protection of the seashore’s “natural and cultural resources while allowing opportunities for recreation, education and enjoyment.”

The plan, approved last month by the park service’s Northeast regional director, is the first since 1977 for the park, which stretches from Robert Moses State Park in the west to Moriches Inlet in the east.

Almost since the seashore was created in 1964, the agency has been alarmed by the Island’s building spree. The problem has intensified, Soller said.

“Is Fire Island just a few steps away from a Long Beach?” he asked. “We can’t just keep building and building.”

Over the agency’s objections, local officials have granted zoning variances for homes and business. And Congress has failed to set aside funds for it to condemn properties or buy out homes built in the dunes.

The new plan asks Congress to enact laws creating a framework or council for the park service’s consultations with all stakeholders, including environmental groups and local associations.

That will enable Suffolk County, the Town of Brookhaven and 17 Fire Island communities to analyze how their individual zoning and other decisions impact the entire island, Soller said.

Creating a new council might take four years, Soller said, but much depends on the incoming Trump administration’s preferences.

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