Zeldin Reintroduces Legislation To Save Plum Island
NORTH FORK, NY — Rep. Lee Zeldin has reintroduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder
The Plum Island Preservation Act, Zeldin’s bill, will commission the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, which currently owns the island, to formulate a comprehensive plan for the future of the island.
The legislation requires the plan focus on conservation, education, and research and include alternative uses for the island including a transfer of ownership to another federal agency, the state or local government, a nonprofit, or a combination thereof.
Allowing for continued research, public access and permanent preservation of the island, Zeldin’s bill, H.R. 2182, will suspend laws passed in 2008 and 2011 that mandated the public sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder, a release from Zeldin's office said.
“In Congress, one of my highest local priorities has been to protect Plum Island, one of our greatest local treasures in the 1st congressional district. Plum Island is beloved by our local community because it is a critical cultural, historical, and natural resource. With 90 percent of the land on Plum Island sheltered from development, Plum Island offers Long Island a diverse wildlife and ecosystem and a critical habitat for migratory birds, marine mammals, and rare plants," Zeldin said.
In addition, Zeldin said, Plum Island is also an essential cultural and historical resource as well, with recorded history dating back to the 1700s.
The current law, which mandates the sale of the island to the highest bidder, he said, "is the wrong path forward, because it does not provide for public access and permanent preservation of the island, or the continued use of the research infrastructure. The state of the art research facility at Plum Island must not go to waste—and preserving this island’s natural beauty while maintaining a research mission will continue to provide important economic and environmental benefits to Long Island."
In the 114th Congress, Zeldin’s bipartisan bill to protect Plum Island, H.R. 1887, passed the House of Representatives on May 16, 2016. Congressman Zeldin’s amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2017, H.R. 5485, which would prohibit any of the funding within the appropriations bill to be used to market or sell Plum Island, also passed the House of Representatives on July 7, 2016.
Of Zeldin's efforts, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said, "Rep. Zeldin has been at the forefront in the battle to save Plum Island. He recognizes it as a key economic engine with the jobs it provides to the residents on the East End and he also recognizes it has an environmental jewel that needs to be protected."