For Immediate Release
July 25, 2017
U.S. House passes bipartisan bill to protect Plum Island
Regional legislators champion bill that could halt efforts to sell Plum Island to highest bidder
New Haven, Conn. – For a second year in a row, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan Plum Island protection bill introduced by Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY 1).
If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, The Plum Island Preservation Act (H.R. 2182) would halt action on the sale of the island, including the marketing process the federal government has undertaken in its efforts to sell it to the highest bidder. Additionally, the bill would commission the Government Accountability Office for potential alternatives to the sale of the island, including the transfer of ownership to another Federal agency, state or local government, a nonprofit organization, or a combination thereof for the purpose of education, research, or conservation.
Today’s passage of The Plum Island Preservation Act is a crucial step in the effort to prevent sale to the highest bidder. Additional measures to permanently protect Plum Island came earlier this year, when New York and Connecticut Senators and Representatives sent letters to the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on Homeland Security, advocating for the full repeal of the laws mandating a sale of Plum Island.
Below are statements from members of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition steering committee:
“The Preserve Plum Island Coalition strongly supports House passage of H.R. 2182 as it provides a clear path forward for preserving Plum Island. It stops the clock on the sale of the Island and gives federal decision-makers time to assess the best options for the Island. We are confident that once they realize the nationally-significant cultural and natural resources at stake federal lawmakers will move to protect it,” notedJohn Turner, Spokesperson of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition.
“We deeply appreciate our congressional delegation’s ongoing efforts to permanently protect Plum Island,” said Leah Schmalz, program director with CFE/Save the Sound. “This bill helps clear the path that will ensure the lands and wildlife of our regional treasure will be preserved for generations to come.”
“Today’s House vote is a win for the environment of eastern Long Island and coastal Connecticut,” said Bob Deluca, executive director for the Group for the East End. “This approval moves us one step closer to assuring the future preservation of Plum Island’s remarkable natural resources as well as the economic value that can come from an appropriate reuse of the properties’ multimillion dollar research facilities.”
“Standing on the windswept bluffs looking out over the Atlantic Ocean or Long Island Sound it is clear that selling this public treasure would be an epic mistake,” noted Richard Remmer, Vice Chair, Parks & Trails New York. “Saving the Island as a park/preserve would insure that future generations will enjoy the thrills and benefits of world class hiking, bird watching, fishing, history tours, environmental education and marine research.”
“Audubon New York and Audubon Connecticut applaud Congressman Zeldin for championing legislation to protect Plum Island’s ecologically sensitive habitat from being sold to the highest bidder,” said Sasha Eisenstein, government relations manager for Audubon New York. “Over 210 bird species rely on Plum Island for breeding and migratory needs, including breeding federally endangered Roseate Terns and federally threatened Piping Plovers. This remarkable island already belongs to the public and deserves to be protected in perpetuity for people, birds, and other wildlife.”
“Plum Island would have become a high-end resort in the late 1800s but for the U.S. government buying the island to build Fort Terry,” noted Nancy Kelley, executive director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “Today, a mostly undeveloped island in Long Island Sound is even more of a rarity, and it is vitally important to preserve this special place for all to enjoy, consistent with protecting its natural habitats and many species of wildlife. We applaud the House for voting to save the island and urge the Senate to follow suit.”
“We are relieved there will be a delay set on the marketing and sale of Plum Island,” said Louise Harrison, Save the Sound’s New York Natural Areas Coordinator. “We know additional time is needed for the government to explore alternative uses for the island, including as a wildlife refuge and research or jobs center. Save the Sound and the Preserve Plum Island Coalition have been working for years to stop the sale of Plum Island and this is an important step.”
“Long Island Sound stakeholders have called for the preservation of Plum Island for years,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “This island contains some of the last remaining untouched natural resources along the eastern seaboard, making it a virtual treasure trove of flora and fauna. Selling the island to the highest bidder is not only foolish it’s a betrayal of the public will. CCE applauds Congressman Lee Zeldin and his colleagues in New York and Connecticut for fighting to preserve this natural treasure for generations to come.”