Located less than a mile from Orient Point, the tip of Long Island's North Fork, lies the 843 acre, pork chop-shaped Plum Island.
Most famously, the island houses the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. What is lesser known is that the approximately 90% of Plum Island that is undeveloped not only holds significant ecological and scenic sites, it also holds nationally-significant artifacts and historic buildings, including the 1870 Plum Gut Lighthouse and the 1897 Fort Terry army barracks and weapons batteries.
Now, Plum Island's wildlife habitat is in danger of being sold to developers. In 2008, Congress approved sale of the island to a private party, with plans to move the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to another state.
Plum Islands scenic value, ecological resources and historic sites offer tremendous potential for recreation and public education, and make it an ideal candidate for permanent preservation.
The U.S. government recognized the ecological importance of Plum Island when it declared the Peconic Estuary, where the island is located, one of 28 Estuaries of National Significance. Hundreds of thousands of federal dollars have been spent on protecting this estuary and the hundreds of wildlife species that it supports. Development of Plum Island would run counter to the long standing effort to protect this federally recognized body of water.
Plum Island is a designated Important Bird Area, or IBA, as recognized by the National Audubon Society. Well-respected private agencies have also recognized the importance of Plum Island and its adjacent smaller islands. Nearby Great Gull Island is a world class tern research station, owned and operated by the American Museum of Natural History. In addition, The Nature Conservancy has designated Plum Island as one of the Last Great Places on Earth.
In response to the proposed sale of Plum Island a number of conservation, environmental, and civic organizations have come together to form the Preserve Plum Island Coalition for the common purpose of protecting Plum Island. While coalition members are aware of the numerous options and strategies available to safeguard the islands resources (e.g. a state park) the Coalition strongly endorses the idea that all or a significant majority of the island be protected as a National Wildlife Refuge, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Please take a moment to sign the petition. Check out our Facebook page, Preserve Plum Island for news and progress reports. It is vital that we save one of the Last Great Places on Earth!
For more information, please visit the website: www.preserveplumisland.org. Thanks!
We the undersigned are writing to you to ask that you do everything in your power to reverse the sale of the 840-acre, federally-owned Plum Island, and to urge you to join your colleagues and sponsor legislation reversing the previously enacted legislation, thereby putting a halt to the disposition of the island to the private sector. Given the numerous values detailed below we believe the best use for all or most of the island is as a National Wildlife Refuge open to limited public visitation.
Due to the adoption of Public Law 110-329 of 2008, and absent successful Congressional intervention, the island will be sold by the federal General Services Administration at which time it will no longer be a public asset. As a first step the GSA is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to assess the environmental impacts of a sale to the private sector. This EIS is expected to be completed in the next few months.
Plum Island has great ecological, recreational, environmental, and historic significance. It contains one of the most important seal haul-out sites in New England, provides habitat for several federally endangered bird species, contains a number of rare plant populations, provides critical migratory habitat for several dozen migratory songbirds, possesses unparalleled scenic views of eastern Long Island, and contains Ft. Terry and the Plum Island Lighthouse, two features of historic and cultural significance. Given all these attributes in addition to several others, we strongly believe that all or a significant fraction of Plum Island should become a National Wildlife Refuge administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
In other cases when federal land has become surplus the GSA has undertaken a process to reach out to other federal agencies including USFWS. This is how the nearby Sachuest Point, Noman%u2019s Island, and Block Island National Wildlife Refuges were established. The same should be done for Plum Island.
We urge that you ensure this priceless public asset remains public, that it is not allowed to be sold off to the highest bidder, and that you ensure that past federal agency precedence is followed by sponsoring or supporting legislation to reverse the current course of action.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and thank you in advance for your efforts in this matter.
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