Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunken Forest, Fire Island National Seashore, Fire Island

Here I am, binoculars in hand, waiting anxiously for my first ever trip by ferry to the Sunken Forest at Sailor's Haven on Fire Island.  Actually, it was Rob and Susan's first trip there as well.  It was a cold day, but the trip was worth it.The Sunken Forest or maritime foresthas been around for 250 years   and many people do not believe such a place exists on Fire Island's sandy shore. 
A lonely deer and the Visitor's Center. 
 This is a 32 mile long barrier island where change occurs frequently due to storms and its own unique natural environment such as climate, vegetation and soil.  This forest not only supports Fire Island's many different ecosystems, but is the most stable natural feature on the Island. The trees never have to pruned or taken care of, salt spray from the ocean takes care of that.  This salt spray flows over the tops of the primary and secondary dunes, keeping the trees as tall as the inner secondary dune.  What happens is that this dune forms behind the primary dune, which faces the ocean side of the island. The secondary dune protects the forest and
Primary dune on the ocean side of the island
is the only reason that the forest exists here at all.  These dunes are an unusual feature of the island probably caused by an inlet that once ran from the Atlantic Ocean side to the Great South Bay.

While the salt spray keeps the trees low. it also provides the trees with the necessary essentials to keep them growing such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium aerosols.  This also causes the trees to form a sort of canopy by the time mid summer approaches.  This is a natural process which the trees take in through their roots and leaves. There are many examples of such trees which I will provide a little later. 

From the top of the secondary dune

Following a 1.5 mile boardwalk through the Sunken Forest provides a unique view of the beautiful and unique trees, plants and freshwater bogs.  Some of the trees are the rare American holly, shadblow and sassafrass.  According to the pamphlet we received at the Visitor's Center, this maritime forest is said to be at or near it's climax. 

Here are the usual links:

The official site of the Sunken Forest.  This link below provides a virtual tour of the boardwalk, trees and plants. It also explains the history of the Sunken Forest.

Article from Loving Long Island :
An introduction to Sailor's Haven

Cherry Grove, Fire Island, 15 minutes away from Sailor's Haven and where we caught the ferry back from.

Wikipedia article,_New_York

Secondary dune at the back entrance to the ocean side of the island
Canopy tree
Freshwater bog
At the start of the Sunken Forest boardwalk on the bay side
Inside the forest

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating read, Clyde! I have never been on an island like this...sure would love to see if for myself!