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National Park Service considers changes to Fire Island driving regulations

Kismet, N.Y. — Fire Island's westernmost community
Sabrina Garone
/
WSHU
Kismet, N.Y. — Fire Island's westernmost community

Fire Island beaches could see some more traffic during the off-season. The National Park Service will consider changes to driving regulations that have been in place for almost four decades.

When the National Seashore was created, it was mandated the barrier island be roadless to keep the landscape pristine. First responders and a small group of residents and businesses with permits can drive their vehicles on the beaches.

One proposal would get rid of the cap on public utility vehicles, increase the cap for residents from 145 to 200, and allow for 145 construction vehicles.

Bikes are the primary mode of transportation for Fire Island residents.
J.D. Allen
/
WSHU
Bikes are the primary mode of transportation for Fire Island residents.

Another option would remove limits on permits for year-round residents and businesses, with restrictions on the time of year and days of the week. This proposal was brought up last November.

“It’s a jewel. It’s a roadless island with an amazing natural beauty,” said Suzy Goldhirsh, president of the Fire Island Association.

She said the current waitlist for driving permits is long. But, the general consensus from residents is that they want a balance — allow for some more cars, but not an unlimited amount.

“To inundate it with more cars, more trucks, more vehicles because people want permits and want to drive… I don’t think it’s the right balance,” Goldhirsh said.

Over 400 people live on Fire Island full-time. That number swells to 15,000 in the summer.

A decision is expected by next summer.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.