Thursday, July 28, 2016

Program Visit: FIIS

My second program visit began with a drive from Philadelphia to Fire Island National Seashore.  Despite the fact that we were traveling mid-day on a Monday afternoon, the Long Island traffic was bad!   I was joined on this visit by Junior (Pro)Rangers Finn and Aislin.

We were able to drive onto the island and park near the lighthouse and ranger station.  But, beyond the state park on the very western tip of the island, no cars are allowed without a special permit (during the winter months) and not at all during the summer.  There are no roads on the island – only boardwalks that connect some communities and sand.  Visitors either park and walk to their destination or arrive at one of several ferry points and transport their supplies via carts.  

After meeting ProRanger Justen Williams for a tour of the ranger station and visitor center, we set off for Watch Hill which has another NPS Visitor Center and park housing.   It is accessible to rangers via a 45 minute drive down beach or from Long Island via a ferry.  We set off down the beach and learned a lot about the park from Ranger Claire Formanski who has been visiting or working at the park since her early teenage years!  We also saw another ranger making a law enforcement contact with some visitors as we passed by.

Original Coast Guard radar equipment in the rear section of the current ranger station

Checking out the Visitor Center at the Lighthouse


You never know what will wash up on shore!
After some evening adventures and some early morning play on a rainy beach, we drove from the ranger station to park headquarters.  This trip is about 30 minutes each way across the causeway and further east on Long Island. At headquarters, we had the opportunity meet with Superintendent Chris Soller, Chief Ranger John Stewart and Ranger Claire Formanski.  There was also an opportunity for the junior rangers to get started on their workbooks!

Superintendent Soller, ProRanger Williams, Chief Ranger Stewart and Ranger Formanski

It was a pretty dreary afternoon.  We spent some time at the ranger station talking with Ranger Luke DeDominici who supervised the intern last summer.  We also played a little “Guess that Park” and the junior rangers completed their tasks and received their badges.

Justen and the junior rangers work on their badges

Ranger DeDominici congratulates the junior rangers

We returned to Watch Hill for a quiet evening.  On our final morning, Justen was stationed at the Watch Hill Visitor Center so we met him there and engaged in some more activities. 

Justen manning the desk at the Watch Hill Visitor Center
Then we packed up and headed back to the lighthouse.  What visit to a national seashore would be completed without climbing the lighthouse?  So, we climbed all 192 steps to the top – stopping to take notice of step #100.

Fire Island Lighthouse Step #100 of 192.
So, on the first bright and sunny day of our visit, we bid goodbye to Fire Island N.S. and headed up the road to Boston!

Up next:  Boston

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