An Ode To The Dunes

An East Hampton landscape to preserve a rare natural h By Jane Berger • lotogr the glitzy norm e.

An ipe boardwalk winds 600 feet over double dunes and through native shrubs and grasses back to a modern yet modest East Hampton residence.

N SUMMERTIME, East Hampton, New York, on Long Island's Sooth Fork, is jumping with world-class partygoers in pursuit of luxurious pleasure. It's a small town with one main street, but in July and August the affluent enclave is filled with well-known and influential ¡people. Restaurants are booked solid for the season, pricey boutiques are packed from early morning to late at night, stylish couples attend lavish charity galas, and glittery soirees attract celebrities of every kind. While East Hampton is famous for all the glitz and glamour, what's not so well-known is its extraordinary, rare, and arrestingly beautiful natural landscape: a contrast of vast open sky, deep blue water, and dunes that run for miles along the oceanfront in shades of antique ivory and smoky beige that take on a luminous quality in moonlight.

The two and a half miles of Atlantic Ocean barrier beach that run through the villages of East Hampton and Amagansett comprise one of the most geologically unusual and ecologically sensitive areas in the United States. More than 3,000 years ago, the natural rhythm of Atlantic Ocean waves created a double dune system, with freshwater wetlands in between the two that support a rich habitat for the threatened eastern spadefcot toad, red fox, deer, box turtles, and mice that are important prey for migrating hawks and falcons. The double dunes are also home to nesting shorebirds, a wide variety of native plants, and even orchids.

Forty years ago, town officials and experts from the Nature Conservancy

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