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Fed Shutdown Shutters Fire Island Beaches, Lighthouse

Government action is also having a negative impact on the local economy.

The Fire Island Lighthouse is closed. File photo by Patch.
The Fire Island Lighthouse is closed. File photo by Patch.

The federal government shutdown has closed all local national parks, including Sunken Forest and Sailor’s Haven on Fire Island, as well as the Fire Island Lighthouse, and is having a negative ripple impact on the local economy as ferry and concession operators have had to halt service and retail sales.

Sayville Ferry, which provides service to Sailor’s Haven and Sunken Forest, won’t be running any ferries to those barrier beach tourist attractions until the shutdown ends. 

It also means any school trips scheduled for those FINS beaches won’t leave the dock and the concession stand, which sells food and beverages, as well as tourist items to visitors is shuttered.

“Everything is closed at this point,” a ferry spokesperson told Patch in a phone interview Tuesday. “Most of our weekly trips at this point to those beach areas are typically group and school trips so they’re not happening during the shutdown. We still do run weekend service to those beaches in October but as of now we have no idea if they beaches will be open for weekend visits.”

Sunken Forest is a 300-year-old primeval holly forest adjacent to Sailors Haven, a beach spot featuring a snack bar, picnic areas, lifeguards, restrooms and a marina.

Beach visitors are advised to check the Sayville Ferry website for updates as the company will be providing a status regarding service.

That proves useful given the National Parks Service web pages are not operating and site visitors are instructed to click through to the Department of Interior website for information. 

The Facebook page for the Fire Island Lighthouse notes the lighthouse is now closed and apologizes for the inconvenience.

According to data at DOI, emergency and essential services are being provided at national parks at this point.

The Fire Island National Park shutdown is not only costing Sayville Ferry money due to loss in fares and concession sales, it’s also impacting the company’s employees, many of whom are college students or older workers supplementing retirement income. 

The ferry has already cancelled crew work hours this week in light of the federal government action.

“There is a ripple effect here. As we can’t run service, we have to layoff people involved in providing the service,” said the spokesperson.

The total loss of business won’t be known until the shutdown has passed, he added.

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