What Is Fire Island?

Fire Island, New York, is a barrier island, approximately 30 mi (48 km) long and 0.5 mi. (1 km) wide, in Suffolk County on the southern side of Long Island.  The island’s gross area is 19,579 acres.  The National Park Services estimates that 2.2 million people annually come to Fire Island, either into one of the 17 private communities, to the county park, on waters surrounding the island, or to one of the national seashore facilities.  Approximately 820,865 people visit Fire Island beaches each summer.  Fire Island was designated a National Seashore in 1964 but retained most of its existing communities, each of which has a unique character.

80% of Fire Island is public park land and will remain open and undeveloped. Fire Island’s park land includes the Fire Island National Seashore, a state park, a county park, and a couple of town parks. 20% of Fire Island is developed, with approximately 4,000 usable lots in 17 small communities.

 

The Fire Island Land Trust operates across the entirety of Fire Island and is concerned with land protection and historic initiatives in all communities.

What Is A Land Trust?

 
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements. 

Please click here for more information about Land Trusts from the Land Trust Alliance

Are Land Trusts Government Agencies?

No, they are independent, entrepreneurial organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting open space. But land trusts often work cooperatively with government agencies by acquiring or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or assisting in the development of open space plans.

Why Doesn't The Federal Government Preserve And Protect Fire Island?

The National Park Service, an arm of the Department of the Interior, has jurisdiction over the entire Fire Island National Seashore.  Unfortunately, the federal government does not have the capacity or the resources to protect vulnerable areas of Fire Island.  Year after year the Fire Island National Seashore does not receive the budget its requires to operate and fulfill its mission.  State and local government often ignore Fire Island because of the small number of year-round constituents on Fire Island.  Recognizing that residents of Fire Island have waited too long for the government to act, the Fire Island Land Trust aims to fill the gap and ensure that Fire Island and its seventeen communities remain vibrant into the future.  For more information on the budget shortfalls of the Fire Island National Seashore, click here for the most recent Fire Island National Seashore Business Plan.

What Are The Advantages Of Working With The Fire Island Land Trust?

The Fire Island Land Trust works closely with the Fire Island communities and caters to their particular needs.  Because it is a private organization, land trusts can be more flexible and creative than public agencies - and can act more quickly - in saving land.  We can offer a number of tax benefits and other incentives including income or gift tax savings

The Fire Island Land Trust does not involve itself in politicized debates that have historically produced a stalemate between property owners and government regulators.  Instead, we are solutions oriented, attempting to bring everyone to the table to talk about common goals for protecting and preserving this area that we all care about so much – Fire Island.

Is There Any Land Left On Fire Island To Protect?

 
Absolutely, the National Park Service estimates that there is approximately 915.61 acres of privately owned lands within the designated boundary of the Fire Island National Seashore.  Although only 20% of Fire Island is developed, that is still approximately 4,000 usable lots in the 17 small communities.  The Fire Island Land Trust is also working in partnership with the National Park Service in some of the federal areas of Fire Island to ensure that the land is protected and enjoyed for future generations. 

Is The Trust Involved In Anything Besides Land Protection?

Yes, but all of our other initiatives stem from our land protection focus.  The Trust is involved with historic preservation on Fire Island.  We actively seek to identify historic properties around Fire Island for the purpose of securing funding to restore these areas and enhance their value to the community.  In fulfilling its vision to preserve the community character of the developed areas of Fire Island, the Trust may also support measures to enhance the green design throughout Fire Island. 


U.S. Coast Guard, Blue Pt Lifesaving Station                    Carrington House (deserving historic preservation)  

Does The Land Trust Have A Position In Regard To The Army Corps’ Reformulation Study?

The Fire Island Land Trust maintains a neutral position with regard to the Army Corp’s Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Reformulation Study but looks to ensure that it does not inadvertently result in more development along the beach seaward of existing structures. 

The Fire Island Land Trust will keep residents informed about the FIMP Study while working proactively to preserve our beaches, our communities, and our way of life.

What Are The Trust’s Priorities?

Our priorities include protecting land and resources that will lead to the preservation of habitat, scenic views, public access, buffer zones, health and safety, historic value, and community character.  One clear area of priority are vacant lots that are seaward of the Coastal Erosion Hazard Act line and the Federal Dune District line, which encompass approximately 36 acres of private land across Fire Island.  We would rather see these areas remain in a natural state for the benefit of the environment and the communities.
 

Aren’t There Other Organizations That Do Land Protection In This Area?

Not exclusively on Fire Island.  Although there are several organizations that have land preservation programs on Long Island, these organizations operate on international, national, or regional scales.  As such, coastal land and the particularities of Fire Island often receive insufficient attention because of property costs and diverted resources.

As a local organization, the Fire Island Land Trust accepts contributions of qualified real property interests exclusively for conservation purposes to preserve the unique coastal natural resources and community of Fire Island, NY.  Fire Island Land Trust aims to fill the gap left by federal, state, and local authorities by working in the private communities of Fire Island to protect historic, scenic, and critical habitat areas throughout Fire Island.

How Is The Land Trust Funded?

Our budget consists solely of charitable donations, foundations, and grants.  To date, we have received generous support from The Nature Conservancy on Long Island, the Land Trust Alliance, the Norcross Foundation, Fund in the Sun Foundation,  and the Department of Environmental Conservation.  We have also received donations and support from a number of Fire Island property owners.  To donate to our efforts, please click here.

Why Should I Grant A Conservation Easement To A Land Trust?

People execute a conservation easement because they love their open space land, and want to protect their land from inappropriate development while keeping their private ownership of the property.  One area where a conservation easement might be appropriate are those areas that are currently undevelopable or that one would like to remain undevelopable.  Granting an easement to a conservation organization that qualifies under the Internal Revenue Code as a "public charity" - which nearly all land trusts do - can yield income tax savings. Land trusts have the expertise and experience to work with landowners and ensure that the land will remain as permanent open space.