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Boater landmark’s fate still up in the air

In March, Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced that the Congressional Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security had compelled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to analyze conservation outcomes for Plum Island.

A month later, House Homeland Security Committee approval of the amended version of Congressman Lee Zeldin’s (R-NY) “Don’t Sell Plum Island” bill marks the beginning of a critical second phase on the path toward saving Plum Island.

The bill, passed unanimously by the committee on April 28, would independently review the DHS report, fill in any gaps with a supplemental report completed by the impartial General Accounting Office, and halt all sales activities of Plum Island until this report process is complete.

In his press release, Congressman Zeldin said, “Plum Island is a natural treasure that has been a part of Long Island history since the 1700s. With approximately 90 percent of the land on Plum Island undeveloped, the island is home to a diverse wildlife and ecosystem, and serves as a critical habitat for migratory birds, marine mammals, and rare plants. It’s our responsibility to protect this precious land for future generations, which is why I am proud to have secured the passage of this bill out of committee and to the House floor for a vote.”

U.S. representatives from around the Long Island Sound region welcomed the news.

“As the largest area in southern New England where seals can rest on dry land, a home to two threatened bird species, and a refuge for wildlife and native plans, the environmental importance of Plum Island cannot be overstated,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who co-chairs the Long Island Sound caucus. “These waters are a national treasure, and we have responsibility to ensure their protection and preservation. The passage of HR 1887 out of committee is the first step to ensuring that we Save, Not Sell, Plum Island.”

“Plum Island is a rare scenic and biological treasure located right off our coast in Long Island Sound,” said Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), whose eastern Connecticut district is home to many Plum Island employees. “The Island is home to a rich assortment of endangered species and migratory birds, and that’s why I believe we need to do everything we can to preserve it as a natural sanctuary. I have long supported federal legislation to repeal the requirement to sell Plum Island in order to finance a new research center in Kansas. Now that Congress has appropriated separate funding to build that new facility, the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary and should be scrapped. With legislation to delay that sale now working its way through the House, I believe we are closer than we have ever been to permanently protecting Plum Island.”