Southold, NY—Congressman Nicholas LaLota (NY-1) introduced legislation last week that aims to protect Plum Island permanently by declaring it a National Monument, a status that can be conferred either by Congress or by the President under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
John Turner, spokesperson for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, said, “The Preserve Plum Island Coalition greatly appreciates Congressman LaLota’s commitment to protecting Plum Island, as evidenced by his introduction of legislation to designate it as a National Monument. With this newly introduced bill, the permanent protection of Plum Island now is being considered by the full suite of federal decision makers – Senators, members of the House of Representatives, the White House, and the relevant agencies. We strongly support this goal and look forward to working with Congressman LaLota’s office, his House colleagues, and our region’s Senators to achieve permanent protection for Plum Island, which it richly deserves.”
H.R. 1584, the “Plum Island National Monument Act,” establishes Plum Island, New York, as a “national monument for the purpose of ecological conservation, historical preservation, and the discovery and celebration of our shared cultural heritage.” It grants the Secretary of the Interior administrative jurisdiction to carry out the Act by entering into memoranda of understanding with relevant federal departments or agencies. It requires a management plan within three years of funding being granted, which must be submitted to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate.
This legislation builds on growing momentum in Congress. In December, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, and Kirsten Gillibrand secured in the Federal Omnibus Spending bill a provision expressing unequivocal support for safeguarding Plum Island in perpetuity. This provision, now law, requires Department of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration to provide a briefing to Congressional Committees regarding the closure and disposal process for the island’s permanent conservation, interim ecological management, and options for permanent ownership by various entities.
These legislative actions are logical and significant next steps in the Coalition’s more than decade-long effort to secure the permanent protection of Plum Island. This federally-owned island off the northeastern tip of Long Island is home to ecological and cultural resources including federally threatened and New York State-endangered piping plovers, the largest seal haul-out site in New York, and the National Register of Historic Places Plum Island Lighthouse (1869) and the National Register of Historic Places Fort Terry (1897) army barracks and weapons batteries. It also is highly valued by the sovereign Montaukett Indian Nation as part of the nation’s cultural heritage.
Over the last year, more than 1,700 supporters, including Senators Schumer, Blumenthal, Murphy, and Gillibrand; the full Long Island delegation to the New York State Legislature; the 18-member Suffolk County Legislature; and every local public official on Long Island’s East End have sent letters to the White House requesting National Monument status for Plum Island.