A coalition of congressional legislators from Connecticut and New York is attempting to prevent the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) from marketing or selling Plum Island, a 3-mile by 1-mile property in the Long Island Sound.
The legislators sent letters to the Appropriations Committee leaders in the U.S. House and Senate asking that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill be changed to prohibit the island’s sale. The legislators noted that Congress first mandated the sale of Plum Island in 2008 to help fund the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas, adding that other sourcing channels have since been established and the island’s sale was no longer required.
“Constituents in our two states oppose the sale of Plum Island and would like to see the sale stopped in order to ensure that efforts to preserve the island are successful,” the legislators wrote. “The 840-acre island is a critical habitat for over 200 bird species, many of which use the island as part of their North-South migration along the Atlantic flyway, and is the most important haul-out site for grey and harbor seals in southern New England. It is also home to 40 rare and protected plant species, as well as sea turtles, marine eelgrass beds and numerous fish populations. The ecological importance of this island was acknowledged in its recognition as a ‘New York State Significant Coastal Fish & Wildlife Habitat’ by the state of New York and a federally designated area under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act.”
The legislators also noted the island’s historic significance, including the presence of the Plum Island Lighthouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the remains of Fort Terry, an army barracks and weapons storage site built in 1897 that was used in the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II.
Connecticut’s U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined their New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand in the appeal, while Connecticut U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney and Rosa DeLauro joined their New York counterparts John Faso, Kathleen Rice and Lee Zedlin.