Fire Island National Seashore as a World Heritage Site?


Fire Island National Seashore as a World Heritage Site?

NPS/Fire Island National Seashore

NPS/Fire Island National Seashore

By Thomas McGann
Fire Island News – Monday, September 05, 2016

A WORLD HERITAGE SITE (WHS) is a PLACE listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural and/ or physical significance. Once a World Heritage Site designation has been assigned, world-class expertise can be brought to bear to protect that area. There are 1,031 sites (and counting) throughout the world, 24 of which were added in 2015 including the San Antonio Missions in Texas. The Statue of Liberty is a WHS, as are the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu, and the Great Wall of China.

To become listed, the site must be of “universal value and meet at least one out of 10 selection criteria.” These criteria seek to protect and preserve the sites, linking the concepts of conservation with the preservation of cultural properties while recognizing the need to balance those concerns with the ways in which people interact with the sites.

Fire Island meets at least three criteria as speci- fied by UNESCO:

Criteria V – “to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use which is representative of a culture (cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.”

Fire Island is a barrier island, 32 miles long by approximately 1⁄2 mile wide. Twenty-six of those miles are administered by the National Park Service (NPS) as authorized by Congress with the creation of the Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) in 1964. The Fire Island National Seashore extends 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, its southern boundary, and 4,000 feet into the Great South Bay, Patchogue Bay, Bellport Bay, Narrow Bay and Moriches Bay its northern boundaries. It also contains a number of small islands, sand flats and wetlands, along with the William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach.

Barrier beaches such as Fire Island provide indispensable protection for the mainland from flooding and erosion, and afford shelter from periodic hurricanes. As reported by the Fire Island National Seashore Short-term Community Storm Surge Protection Plan, Environmental Assessment: “Barrier islands such as Fire Island provide unique ocean- side habitat and protection from the flooding and erosion of the mainland shorelines.

Criteria VII – “to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional beauty and aesthetic importance.”

Fire Island is home to Sunken Forest, a national treasure, a very rare ecological community, and one of only two known locations on Atlantic bar- rier islands: the Sunken Forest, part of Fire Island National Seashore, New York, and the Sandy Hook holly forest, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey.

Sunken Forest has a global rarity rank, mean- ing: “Critically Imperiled or Imperiled globally – At very high or high risk of extinction due to rarity or other factors; typically 20 or fewer populations or locations in the world, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines.”

Fire Island Lighthouse is a historic and important aid to navigation. It was the first sighting of America for passengers on transatlantic ships arriving from Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today the lighthouse is a beacon that attracts 125,000 visitors a year.

The Otis Pike Wilderness Area on the eastern reaches of Fire Island occupies eight miles of virtually pristine beaches, high dunes covered in wildflowers, and seaside artifacts. It is the only Wilderness Area in New York State.

The William Floyd Estate, also a part of FINS, a 613-acre property located in Mastic Beach, was added to FINS in 1965. It once belonged to William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Criteria X – “to contain the most import- ant and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.”

Fire Island is the habitat for several endangered species. The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) has been reduced to a population of only 6,500 and Fire Island is one its last remaining breeding areas. The Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), also a resident spe-cies, is federally and state endangered, as is the Least Tern (Sternula antitarum).

The Seabeach Amaranth (Amaranthus pumilius), a federally threatened annual plant species, grows on Fire Island beaches. The Seabeach Knotweed (Polygonum glaucum) is another rare plant that makes Fire Island its home.

Three species of endangered whales ply the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Fire Island. They are the Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), the Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus), and even the Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Five federally endangered species of sea turtles have been documented on Fire Island although none nest there: Kemp’s Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) are fed- erally endangered species, while the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) are federally threatened.

There is a need for world-class expertise to pre- serve the natural treasures of the seashore and the barrier island. Addressing imminent threats to the planet because of climate change and rising sea lev- els will require the expertise obtainable through designation as a World Heritage Site. To this end, Jerry Stoddard and Irving Like have formed the Fire Island Conservancy, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation to advance the long-term protection of the barrier island and its communities, and to gain World Heritage Site status for FINS.

Irving Like, Esq., one of the founders and only sur- viving member of the Citizens Committee for the Fire Island National Seashore, was, in part, responsible for the defeat of the Robert Moses highway.

Jerry Stoddard, president of the Fire Island Associ- ation from 1987 to 2011, was a bit more circumspect. “Fire Island is unique. Those who live here celebrate that. At the same time that they want to protect that fact, they want to preserve their uniqueness… It is important to remember that each individual is differ- ent. Some are interested in the commercial aspect, some want solitude. There should be a system under UNESCO, where all can be formally recognized and accepted. There is room for all.”

There are, however, other well-argued points of view in opposition to the idea. The one most often voiced, is the question of sovereignty. Will the UN, through UNESCO, control and/or manage FINS, and…what about the law of unintended consequences? Some members of Congress argue that such a designation infringes on the national sovereignty of the U.S., allowing foreigners to determine how we use our lands and natural resources. Some also maintain that Congress does not have enough of an influence on which U.S. sites are nominated to the World Heritage List. Presently, the executive branch of the government can make a asset will create pollution problems, traffic tie-ups, the burdening of municipal services, and price inflation. And, of course, political shenanigans can never be discounted.

Indeed, tourism is a two-edged sword. It is one of the world’s largest industries. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that tourism generates 12 percent of the world’s total GNP. Visitor fees, concessions, and donations provide funds needed for restoration and protection efforts. The answer to this dichotomy is the implementation of responsible and sustainable tourism policies.

UNESCO recognizes that management and sovereignty remain with the country where the site is located “without prejudice to property rights provided by national legislation.”

UNESCO can only monitor and evaluate these sites, offering technical advice and assistance. In fact, the convention emphasizes that the coun- tries in which these sites are located are them- selves responsible for protecting and conserving those sites.

The worst that UNESCO can do is to remove a site’s designation. This has happened only twice, once in Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary because of poaching and habitat degradation, and the other in Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley because of the con- struction of a bridge that bisected the site.

The former example illustrates the continuing danger of species extinction (one of WHS corner- stone concerns) and the latter highlights the fact that UNESCO does, in fact, have no power over local governments.

Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Laudato Si’, which addressed climate change directly, coupled with his trip to NYC last September, engenders hope for support on an international scale.

Fire Island serves a population in excess of 12 million people within a 50-mile radius. This area includes the Statue of Liberty (A World Heritage Site itself), New York City with all its financial, cul- tural, and artistic treasures, and the United Nations headquarters, home of UNESCO.

Among WHS supporters is State Senator Thomas Croci who states, “This nation has many treasures, but the Fire Island National Seashore is of such a distinct character, it is unequivocally worthy of such designation.”

Dunewood Tennis “Open”

Dunewood Labor Day Weekend Tennis Tradition

This years doubles tournament was over nine hours long. With a hot summer sun blazing  family and friends joined in the tradition with encouraging cheers & coaching tips from their beach chairs perched along Central Walk.

Max & Becky - Runners Up Gloria & Peter -  Winners Photo: Anthony Coutrone - Copyright c. 2014

From left to right:                                                                                                                                         Runners up: Max Lazarus & Becky Coutrone                                                                                            Winners: Gloria Perna & Peter Taub                                                                                                                              Photo: Anthony Coutrone: Copyright c. 2014

 Click on the first small image below to see the slide show:

 Photos: Ellen S. Abramowitz – Copyright c. 2014

Nick Singer – 2015 – DYC Perpetual Trophy Winner

Nick Singer - 2015 DYC Perpetual Trophy Winner. From left to right: DYC Instructors - Katie Cutrone, Emmett Wechsler, Jake Singer, Zach Resnick, Sanjay Day.   Photos: Copyright - Ellen S. Abramowitz - c. 2015

Nick Singer – 2015 DYC Perpetual Trophy Winner.
From left to right: DYC Instructors – Katie Cutrone, Emmett Wechsler, Jake Singer, Zach Resnick, Sanjay Day.
Photos: Copyright – Ellen S. Abramowitz – c. 2015

A special 50th anniversary exhibit, “Protecting a Ribbon of Sand: The Creation of Fire Island National Seashore

A special 50th anniversary exhibit, “Protecting a Ribbon of Sand: The Creation of Fire Island National Seashore,” curated by Dunewood's Susan and Cathy Barbash

A special 50th anniversary exhibit, “Protecting a Ribbon of Sand: The Creation of Fire Island National Seashore,” curated by Dunewood’s Susan and Cathy Barbash

A special 50th anniversary exhibit, “Protecting a Ribbon of Sand: The Creation of Fire Island National Seashore,” curated by Dunewood’s Susan and Cathy Barbash, opened August 8 and will run through October 12 at the Fire Island Lighthouse Fresnel Lens Building. Through correspondence, articles, memorabilia, and photographs, the exhibit explores the battle over the fate of Fire Island from the turn of the century until the Seashore’s 1964 establishment. For Susan Barbash the exhibit helps “tell the story of the grassroots movement to protect the unique character of Fire Island, which we continue to enjoy to this day.”

A Fisherman’s Tail

Jerry Jerome, one of Dunewood’s ardent fisherman, was one mile off shore from the Fire Island Lighthouse on Captain Al’s boat when he and some of his family members noticed quite a commotion in the water. They pulled the boat over to get a closer look. What they saw was quite a surprise. A tremendous striped-bass leaped out from the water in shock after being bitten in its tail by a hammerhead shark. Ace fisherman Jerome, without his fishing pole, reached over with his large net and pulled in the 40-pound striped bass as other hammerheads began to circle. This was a perfect birthday gift for Jerry Jerome who was out for his annual birthday fishing adventure.

Jerry may not have had the first bite, but the Jerome family and their friends had last licks at Saturday night’s dinner table.

Take a close look at the tail, the hammerhead’s teeth marks are larger than Jerry’s hand.

Photo: Copyright – Ellen S. Abramowitz c. 2015

Ace fisherman Jerry Jerome

Ace fisherman Jerry Jerome with his 40 pound bass on Dunewood’s “L-Dock”

Dunewood Off Shore

At 5:30 a.m., two Dunewood residents and avid fishermen, sixteen year old Allie Henner and her father Kevin Henner, woke up to begin a day of fishing for sharks. Allie who has been chasing sharks for the last three years began begging her father to let her come along on a shark fishing expedition since she was nine years old. Her brother, Jake Henner, four years older started at the age of thirteen. That was the rule set in place by their parents Jane and Kevin. As it turned out, Jake’s nautical interest has leaned towards sailing. Jake is currently a sailing instructor at the Dunewood Yacht Club (DYC). However, Allie’s seafaring interests were to go offshore and catch some sharks.

The Henner’s boat pulled out at 6:30 a.m. on that bright Saturday morning. The shark bait was ready with a combination of chum comprised of bunker fish and fish oil to spice-up their chum slick. This type of baiting is similar to leaving out a trail of breadcrumbs that lead up to the mackerel on the hook. When they were eight miles off shore they began shark fishing. The first two sharks they caught were both under six feet in length, which is below the legal limit and were released. After several hours, they hooked onto a 250 pound 8’9” Mako shark that was all muscle. It took about an hour and half, with Allie and Kevin splitting the work of reeling in the shark and steering their boat. Allie said: “the key thing is to be fast and calm” then added “it is important to move quickly while keeping focused, it’s easy to get a finger caught in a line causing an injury and even easier to lose the shark.”

After docking their boat in their slip at the Dunewood “L- Dock” six hours later, local residents arrived to get a look at the substantial catch. Kevin, after removing a hook from the shark’s mouth, noticed that it was not theirs, a sign that they were not the first to attempt bringing in this shark. Allie concluded, that by the look of that hook, which was not rusty, that “the shark was mostly likely hooked by another fisherman within the last week”.

As in the past, the Henner’s cleaned the shark and shared their catch feeding at least half of the community.

Photos: Copyright – Ellen S. Abramowitz c. 2015

5’5” Allie Henner with 8’9” Mako Shark on Dunewood’s “L-Dock”

5’5” Allie Henner with 8’9” Mako Shark on Dunewood’s “L-Dock”

Kevin and Allie Henner lifting their 250 lb. Mako Shark

Kevin and Allie Henner lifting their 250 lb. Mako Shark

Dunewood Yacht Club – DYC The Liberty Loop

The Liberty Loop is the DYC way of celebrating the July 4th weekend. It is a race around East Island, where each racer decides which way he or she will round the island depending on the conditions of the Great South Bay. The Liberty Loop, the newest regatta within the DYC schedule, was started by Cooch Berman Duvall in 1996. Cooch grew inpatient waiting for the Dunewood Doubles regatta to kick-off the racing season in mid-July so the Liberty Loop came to life.

The regatta took place Sunday afternoon on July 5th. A glorious day for racers with a strong South West wind that blew across the Great South Bay as the tide was heading out.

Eleven racers ranging from ages 14 to 55 competed to have their name added to list of champions on the trophy. The tradition, as with all DYC regattas, is the first place winner keeps the trophy in their possession for one year and then returns the trophy to the DYC on race day the following year.

Out of the eleven racers, six headed west, while five chose to head east. The fleet of sunfish pass each other on the South side of East Island. As it turned out, all six racers that went west crossed the finish line ahead of the five racers that fared east. This was unlike last year’s Liberty Loop regatta where the placement was divided evenly between those racers that went both east and west.

Congratulations to Mike Perna who finished first in thirty-three minutes. Mike’s name will now be added as the 2015 champion on the trophy along all prior winners. Kudos to all of the 2015 Liberty Loop racers who all crossed the finish line within minutes of each other.

Participants in order of placement:
Mike Perna
Jake Singer
Rich Perna
Matthew Gilbert
Zach Resnick
Ernie Fritz
Emmett Wechsler
Sanjay Day
Oliver Roth
Jack Cutrone*
John Luke
*The youngest racer.

Photos: Copyright – Ellen S. Abramowitz c. 2015

and their off........

and their off……..

Mike Perna first to cross the finish line in 33 minutes.  Sail number 27.

Mike Perna crosses the finish line in 33 minutes.

Sam Bither commodore of the 2015 Liberty Loop presents Mike Perna with Trophy

Sam Bither commodore of the 2015 Liberty Loop presents Mike Perna with Trophy

Racers from Left to Right - Top Row: Jake Singer, Oliver Roth, Rich Perna, Ernie Fritz, Matt Gilbert Front Row: Sam Bither, Emmett Weschler, Mike Perna, Jack Cutrone, Sanjay Day

Racers from Left to Right – Top Row: Jake Singer, Oliver Roth, Rich Perna, Ernie Fritz, Matt Gilbert
Front Row: Sam Bither, Emmett Weschler, Mike Perna, Jack Cutrone, Sanjay Day

Outsiders vs. Excitables

The “Outsiders” Dunewood’s Softball Team:

In 2007, the Dunewood Outsiders softball team was formed. In order for the “Outsiders” to become the eighth team to join the Saltaire Softball League (SSL), they were required to play against each team in the league once. It was no surprise that the Outsiders, with their talented roster, were easily granted entry into the league. Furthermore, the Outsiders are the only team within the leagues history that does not reside in Saltaire. Hence, their team name.

Saturday’s July 28th game: Outsiders vs. Excitables took place at 10:30 am at the new softball field in Saltaire. Friends, family and neighbors of both teams were cheering on their teams from the bleachers. Several of the Outsiders were off island and substitutes were chosen to fill their spots on the roster.

Even with the Outsiders Coach Eric Katz’s guidance from the sidelines who shared some of the teams strategies with their talented substitutes, it was clear that the Outsiders regular roster was light. Nothing could makeup for Katz’s spring training camp. The Excitables are a solid team that played a strong game. The final score: Excitables 8 – Outsiders 3

Please be sure to cheer-on the Outsiders at their next game vs. Bulkheads – Saturday, July 4rd at 1:00 PM -Saltaire Softball field.

The following is the 2015 Outsider Roster:

Rich Perna – co/Captain
Lynn Berman – co/Captain
Eric Katz – Coach
Sean Boyle
Sandro Bologna
Claire Rogers*
Ben Berman
Joey Abrams
T.J. Demattia
Donnie Diabola
Jason Perna
John Salzinger
Jonah Katz
Peter Taub
Mike Perna
At least one woman is required to be a member on each team.

All photos – copyright: Ellen S. Abramowitz c. 2015

Sean Boyle running to first base.

Sean Boyle running to first base.


On second base after hitting his double

Jonah Katz on second base after hitting his double

Rich Perna pitching

Rich Perna pitching

Peter Taub on his way to first base.

Peter Taub on his way to first base.

Family, friends & neighbors cheer from the bleachers.

Family, friends & neighbors cheer from the bleachers.

 Sandro Bologna first base coach with Peter Taub.

Sandro Bologna first base coach with Peter Taub.

M ike Perna at bat.

Mike Perna at bat.