Meeting Recap – Fire Island & National Parks Discussion

On April 26, Alexcy Romero, superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore (FINS), was the guest speaker for LIMBA. He talked about what FINS does and some of the sites that National Parks Service oversees.

A New York native, Superintendent Romero joined FINS in October 2018. He previously worked at the Public Health Sanitarium at the National Recreation Area. He also served as district manager at the Breezy Point District, assistant supervisor at Prince William Forest Park, supervisor and deputy supervisor at National Capital Parks East and supervisor at George Washington Memorial Parkway.

The National Parks Service is one of nine agencies within the U.S. Department of the Interior. On August 25, 1916, then-President Woodrow Wilson established the Organic Act, which called for the creation of the National Parks Service. Before that, in 1872, Yellowstone Park was established as the first national park.

Superintendent Romero said the purpose of the National Parks Service is to “promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations,” as stated in the Organic Act. Its park managers are dedicated to protecting the parks’ natural resources for this generation and for generations to come.

There are 481 national parks in the U.S., including Hawaii and the territories of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Some examples include Acadia National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Great Smoky Mountains, Stonewall Inn National Monument, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Antietam National Battlefield, Fort McHenry National Monument and Cesar Chavez National Monument.

Superintendent Romero discussed the characteristics of Fire Island. Stretching across 19,758 acres and surrounded by 15,000 acres of open water, Fire Island is home to 350 year-round residents and hosts 2.5 million visitors every year. It also has two marinas, two historic sites on the National Register and 26 campsites. This year, he said, Watch Hill Marina will offer “glamping” experiences for visitors, complete with European-style design and comfortable beds.

Nationwide, there are 307 million tourists who visit within 60 miles of a national park and spend $16.9 billion, according to Superintendent Romero. Additionally, FINS has created 218 jobs and collected $25 million in revenues from the parks’ visitors.
Among the projects FINS is working on, Superintendent Romero said, include working with the Army Corps of Engineers on replenishing the beaches along Fire Island up to Montauk Point and Moriches Inlet, preserving the Fire Island lighthouse and the William Floyd Estate, updating the permitting system regarding off-road vehicles, conducting a vulnerability study on the rising sea levels that includes looking at beach erosion and measuring the sea levels over the next 10 to 20 years, and working with the towns of Islip and Brookhaven in rezoning the dune district. When asked about the damage done by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Superintendent Romero said FINS is continually working on rebuilding the shorelines.