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Fire Island wilderness area grows -- a little

New York's only national wilderness area, on Fire Island, now has an extra acre, the National Park Service said.

Superstorm Sandy actually helped make it happen, by destroying a fishing shack and boardwalk that had held up the addition, officials said.

Part of the Fire Island National Seashore, the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness was created in 1980 -- 1,363 acres in an 8-mile stretch of dunes east of Davis Park.

Seventeen acres were added in 1999 after beach shacks in old fishing and whaling enclaves at Whale House Point and Long Cove were purchased and removed.

Sandy opened a breach near Old Inlet three years ago, destroying the fishing shack; the storm also wrecked a nearby boardwalk. The destruction made it possible to add the final acre to the wilderness, which was finalized Oct. 21.

"The designation of the last acre of potential wilderness . . . fulfills the vision of a forever wild and undeveloped piece of Fire Island," said Fire Island seashore Superintendent Chris Soller.

Christopher Clapp, a marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy, said the barrier island wilderness offers a unique experience.

"You get this very remote feeling, very raw and wild -- and just outright natural beauty . . . which you don't get very often on Long Island," he said.

Any further expansion of the Fire Island wilderness would have to be approved by Congress, Soller said.


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