Long Island, NY - June 25, 2015 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced legislation that would help ensure Plum Island is protected and preserved. Specifically, the legislation provides the General Services Administration (GSA) with the flexibility needed to transfer the sale of Plum Island to a federal agency, such as the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and prevent it from being sold to a private entity at the highest price. Plum Island is currently home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), a federal facility that will soon be put up for sale by GSA in order to offset the construction costs of new proposed site in Kansas. Current federal law requires GSA to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder. Schumer explained that this could threaten the lives of endangered species and environmental resources on the land.
Instead, Schumer said the property should be obtained by a federal agency that will commit to preserving Plum Island as an ecological resource. Schumer today said that Plum Island has immense environmental value; selling the land to a private entity and allowing the land to be developed could do more harm than good.
“Plum Island is a much-needed environmental and wildlife habitat on Long Island and, we must do everything possible to ensure it is not developed,” said Senator Schumer. “The worst thing we can do is rip apart this 840-acre environmental setting and destroy or threaten the lives of species who live there. Congress should pass this much-needed legislation which will give the GSA the flexibility needed to transfer the sale of Plum Island to a federal agency like NPS or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I am confident that these federal agencies would commit to preserving Plum Island and protecting the property from being destroyed.”
For the last decade, local municipalities, land preservation and environmental organizations on Long Island made tremendous strides toward preserving open space on Long Island. Unfortunately, due to federal law, one of the largest parcels on Long Island is unable to be preserved and returned to a nature state
The 840-acre Plum Island is home to a number of species, including 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. According to the final Environmental Impact Statement, a vast number of species may be impacted by possible development scenarios, including at least two endangered species – the piping plover and the roseate tern. In addition, development on Plum Island may affect the endangered Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle and three other New York State-listed endangered or threatened species.
Schumer today announced legislation that changes current federal language that mandates the sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder and preventing the transfer of sale to another federal agency. Schumer said that NPS or the FWS could be interested in taking possession of the property. Schumer said that Congress should pass this legislation, which will make sure the land is protected and preserved because it will allow federal agencies to purchase the land. Schumer said that a federal agency like NPS or FWS would be committed to the environment and should have the ability to control the site. Schumer said he will continue to fight to make sure the property is not developed and species are not threatened.