samantha ayala – Greetings From Fire Island!

Hi everyone, I hope this summer is going great for you all thus far. I am currently in week 3 of my internship as a Community Education and Outreach Intern at Fire Island National Seashore, and I have loved every second of it! I’ve even had the chance to meet and work with a former LHIP intern and now ranger, Roxana!

Ranger Roxana and I on the ferry to Watch Hill on Fire Island

I had never been to Fire Island until I started this internship, and the second I stepped onto the island I fell in love with it. It is such a beautiful area with diverse species, rich vegetation, and amazing sights. It’s almost impossible to believe it all exists on such a small island- it feels like it’s out of a fairy tale.

Deer eating vegetation at Watch Hill
View of the Watch Hill salt marsh and forest from the highest natural point on Fire Island

So far, I have mainly been visiting the park sites and familiarizing myself with the area, as well as doing reading and research on the history of the island. One of my favorite stories is of the many theories on how Fire Island got its name. One of the theories arose due to the vast amount of poison ivy on the island that turns red in the fall- so much so that it makes the island look as if it’s on fire! Another theory, and the most widely believed, is that there was a misspelling of a Dutch word on a map “vier”, meaning four, into “fire”. My favorite theory is that land pirates would light fires on shore to lure in ships, and when the ships crashed, they would loot the boats. This is one of the many facts shared to visitors on tours of our sites- Watch Hill, Sailors Haven, and Wilderness. It’s amazing to see the way people lookout the landscape of the island and grow more and more aware of the importance and rarity of the ecosystems housed on Fire Island. One of my main hopes is to reach as many people as possible to learn and care more about the park.

I hope everyone is having a great summer, and I can’t wait to continue hearing about all of the great work we’re all doing!

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