New York Congressman Lee Zeldin sent a message out to constituents Thursday to announce the reintroduction on April 26 of his bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives, the Plum Island Preservation Act (H.R. 2182), to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder.
The bill, which has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, asks “To require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress on the alternatives for the final disposition of Plum Island, including preservation of the island for conservation, education, and research, and for other purposes.”
“In Congress, one of my highest local priorities has been to protect Plum Island, one of our greatest local treasures in the First Congressional District,” Zeldin writes in the email, noting that “Plum Island is beloved by our local community because it is a critical cultural, historical and natural resource.”
The congressman explains that 90% of the land on Plum Island is sheltered from development, allowing it to offer Long Island a diverse wildlife and ecosystem, which is also a critical habitat for migratory birds, marine mammals and rare plants. “Plum Island is also an essential cultural and historical resource,” Zeldin continues, pointing out a history that goes back to the 1700s.
The federal government has owned the island since 1899, and Plum Island Animal Disease Center has conducted research there since 1954.
Currently the law mandates the sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder, which Zeldin says, “is the wrong path forward, because it does not provide for public access and permanent preservation of the island.”
The law in place now also fails to take advantage of the island’s research facility and infrastructure, he says, adding, “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.”
If enacted, the bill would require the U.S. Comptroller General to submit a report with alternatives for Plum Island including the transfer of ownership to another Federal agency, a state or local government, or nonprofit organization for the previously mentioned uses. The report would also explain how such uses could be implemented and funded.