Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) today announced the reintroduction of the Plum Island Conservation Act, legislation that would permanently repeal a law that requires the federal General Service Administration (GSA) to sell the Plum Island to the highest bidder. The Plum Island Conservation Act would allow the island to be transferred to another federal agency, such as the National Park Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to a state or local government, or to a private steward that can commit to preserving the environmental integrity of Plum Island.
“Plum Island is one of New York’s natural treasures and it should never be sold off,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to protect this land and preserve it for future generations, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill. Congress has a responsibility to protect our public lands, and this legislation is an important step toward that goal.”
“With open space ever dwindling on Long Island, we should do everything possible to preserve the environmental and wildlife habitat on Plum Island,” said Senator Schumer. “It would be a mistake to sell Plum Island to a developer and rip apart this unique 840-acre ecological treasure and destroy the habitat of the endangered species that live there. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to repeal the sale of Plum Island and I will continue to support this cause.”
“Plum Island is one of a kind—an environmental treasure with pristine beaches, miles of natural shorelines, and critical habitats for hundreds of types of plants and animals that should be preserved and protected,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Selling Plum Island to the highest bidder would surely devastate and destroy this ecological gem, which is why the Senate must act to permanently repeal the outdated and wrongheaded mandate to sell the island. I will not stop fighting until Plum Island is free from private developers and protected for generations to come.”
“Plum Island is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and numerous important historical sites. Preserving the Island’s rich history and natural resources is a top priority of mine. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the Connecticut and New York delegation to prohibit the federal government from selling this treasured island to the highest bidder,” said Senator Murphy.
Plum Island is recognized for its significant environmental value. The island is home to a number of unique and endangered species, such as Osprey, Bank Swallow, Piping Plovers, as well as many plants. Plum Island, and the adjacent Great Gull and Little Gull Islands, were identified for protection in 2006 by the federally created Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative, which singled them out for their “exemplary” ecological value. In addition, the GSA’s own Final Environmental Impact Statement concluded that any development of Plum Island could harm the land use, air quality, water resources, and biological resources in the area.
Currently, the GSA is required by law to sell the entire island, including the Plum Island Animal Disease Center research facility and its surrounding natural habitat, to the highest bidder. Congress mandated the sale of Plum Island in order to help pay for construction of the new bio-lab in Kansas. However, legislation since then successfully included money for the lab, making the sale of the island unnecessary.