Fire Island Alpaca Farm in Sunken Forest Moves Forward

Happy Alpacas, recently sheered for the first crop of Fire Island wool. Photo courtesy of Ilene Patrick.
Happy Alpacas, recently sheered for the first crop of Fire Island wool. Photo courtesy of Ilene Patrick.

Plans to convert Fire Island National Seashore’s Sunken Forest into an alpaca farm is one step closer to reality after approvals were obtained from the National Interior Department of Parks (NIDP) at a special Easter Day meeting held on Sunday March 31, 2024.


“We believe this is a win/win for Fire Island and Long Island tourism alike,” announced NIDP Chairman Brian Winkle. “Children will love visiting the animals, which are far more interactive than a bunch of boring trees. Plus, the alpaca dung can help nourish grass in the sand dunes. We can now disband that pesky U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project – problem solved!”


NIDP has been seeking income-generating alternatives for Fire Island National Seashore and the un-utilized space of the primeval maritime forest was deemed an ideal location by the Interior, which is considering this project a priority. In addition to the farm itself, there are plans to open a snack bar operated by a third-party concessionary, as well as a gift shop in which visitors can purchase sweaters and other products made with genuine Fire Island harvested alpaca wool.


“Not just sweaters – but scarves, mittens, and baby bonnets.” explained Chairman Winkle in a recent interview. “The beauty of the plan is that the year-round residents shall knit the items in their spare time, adding authentic appeal to the garments. Local contractors will build the stables with American Holly lumber harvested from the forest, so it’s an entirely self-sustaining program. We’ve ordered spinning wheels so year-rounder children can help prepare the yarn. This will be quality family time. ”


The Department further explained that labor costs are expected to be minimal, as a sweater quota will be mandated in order for year-round residents to retain their driving permit privileges. For those who do not know how to knit, courses will be offered through the Fire Island School Adult Education Program free of charge.

Clear-cutting of the forest is scheduled to begin on April 22, as part of Fire Island National Seashore’s Earth Day celebrations.