Preserve Plum Island - Fighting to preserve 843 acres of wildlife habitat from development

Plum Island Coalition Updates

For all the latest updated, please be sure to check the News page for links to news items related to Plum Island, like us on Facebook or Sign up to Receive our Email Alerts!

June 18, 2015:  The LI members of the State Legislature - the New York State Assembly and Senate - speak with one voice in support of preserving Plum Island!

April 20, 2015: Zeldin Reintroduces Bishop’s Bill to Protect Plum IslandCongressman Lee Zeldin announced Friday that he has re-introduced legislation to protect Plum Island that was previously sponsored by his predecessor, Congressman Tim Bishop.  More...

February 22, 2015: Latest updates from Preserve Plum Island Coalition.

Highlights include...

  • On January 5, 2015 Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, issued a 60-day Intent to Sue Notice to the Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration for their failure to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • New York City Meeting with GSA and NYSDEC
  • PPIC Comment Letter on New York State Open Space Plan
  • Plum Island Community Forum Meeting Recap
  • Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator for Save the Sound, became the new Outreach Coordinator for PPIC in January.
  • John Turner, Spokesperson for the PPIC, along with Chris Cryder, Outreach Coordinator of the PPIC, will be speaking about Plum Island at NY State Senator LaValle’s Environmental Roundtable on Friday, February 27

Click here for complete details

December 17, 2014

Preserve Plum Island Coalition has written a letter to the Open Space Program Staff  Read the letter...

July 2, 2014

Connecticut and New York Delegation Call for Repeal of Law Compelling Sale of Plum Island: U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) led the Connecticut Congressional delegation and members of the New York delegation today in issuing a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership calling for the repeal of language currently compelling the sale of Plum Island, enabling the preservation of the unique natural habitat.  Read More...

June 30, 2014

The NYSDEC has allocated funding for NY Natural Heritage ("NYNH") to conduct extensive field inventory on Plum Island in 2015. The intent is to document the at-risk animal and plant species, and significant natural communities, of the island and its nearshore environment. To that end, NYNH plan surveys for bats, small mammals, certain birds, freshwater reptiles and amphibians, sea turtles, butterflies, moths, beetles, and rare plants, with an emphasis on state and federally listed species, although they are still drafting the scope of work.

August 8, 2013

PLUM ISLAND: The Latest News and How You Can Help

Congressman Tim Bishop introduced "Save, Don't Sell Plum Island" legislation in the House of Representatives, along with companion legislation which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal. These bipartisan bills are aimed at protecting the Island's tremendous biodiversity and ecological value. Future development of Plum Island would be prevented by the elimination of the current requirement to sell the island at public auction.

The value of this Island cannot be overstated. On August 8th, a Suffolk Times article highlighted the prehistoric significance of Plum Island. It describes the 1879 discovery of mammoth bones on the Island, which was only referenced by a single sentence in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement that does not give due credit to this remarkable revelation. In fact, it shows that the impact statement lacks critical information to fully consider the effects of the potential sale of Plum Island.

Please ask your federal representatives to join with Congressman Tim Bishop, Congressman Peter King, and Senators Gillibrand and Blumenthal in supporting the "Save Don't Sell Plum Island" legislation to decouple the sale of Plum Island from the construction of the new Kansas facility.


July 22, 2013

Video: Congressman Tim Bishop's "Save, Dont Sell Plum Island" Press Conference

Town of Southold Proposes a Zoning Plan for Plum Island

Please support the Town Board's efforts to put into place a sensible zoning plan for Plum Island now, in case the sale of the island by the federal government takes place as proposed. The plan sets aside a Research District and a large Conservation District, protecting the island unique ecosystems and maintaining commercial/research use in the current footprint.  See our Proposed Zoning page for more information and to see copies of the Town's proposed plan as well as the Coalitions' response.

May 10, 2013

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Town of Southold Proposes a Zoning Plan for Plum Island

Please support the Town Board's efforts to put into place a sensible zoning plan for Plum Island now, in case the sale of the island by the federal government takes place as proposed. The plan sets aside a Research District and a large Conservation District, protecting the island unique ecosystems and maintaining commercial/research use in the current footprint.  See our Proposed Zoning page for more information and to see copies of the Town's proposed plan as well as the Coalitions' response.

October 29th, 2012

The Preserve Plum Island Coalition's Response to the DEIS prepared by the GSA has been posted to the website.

We've also place some links to new articles on the news page.

May 24th, 2012

We've posted a PDF on "Biodiversity and ecological potential of Plum Island, New York" by the New York Natural Heritage Program.

The Case Statement has been update

An updated Plum Island Species List as of May 18, 2012 has been posted to the fauna page.

February 13th - 15th, 2012

Three News Articles posted to the "In the news" page.

We've also posted U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Head Janet Napolitano's Statement to the U.S. House of Representatives from February 15, 2012.  Plum Island is mentioned on page 10.

Winter 2010 Update
While there has been no definitive action to date to preserve the 843 acre Plum Island, by having it become Long Island’s eighth National Wildlife Refuge, there have been several recent positive developments in our efforts in this regard.

On October 19, 2010 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sent a letter to the Director of the Division of Real Property Utilization and Disposal of the General Services Administration (GSA) in which the Service contends that the GSA is bound to transfer the island to the Service based on several previously adopted federal statutes. The Service is challenging GSA’s contention that the agency may sell the island due to federal legislation which authorizes it sale pusuant to an appropriations bill passed by Congress in 2009. The Service’s legal view is supported by several cases decided by the federal courts. Attorneys from several of the Coalition’s organizational members are reviewing the legal merits of the USFWS position and the Coalition recently wrote to the Acting Director of the Service commending him for taking such a strong and decisive stand on the issue (You can see a copy of these letters on the Preserve Plum Island website at

On another totally different front Congress asked the National Research Council, a branch of the National Academies of Science, to review a risk assessment prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the new lab, proposed to replace the Plum Island lab, and to be located in Kansas. The NRC found there is a 70% chance that germs or pathogens will leak from the new lab sometime over the next 50 years and cause an adverse economic impact on the nation’s livestock of between $9 and $50 billion. This finding serves to undercut the argument for moving the lab from Plum Island. And if the lab stays at Plum Island the rationale for selling the island will disappear!

We will continue to keep you updated as events develop in our ongoing efforts to preserve this environmentally siginifcant island.

Summer 2010 Update
Much has happened since we last reported to you earlier this year about our efforts to preserve Plum Island, an 840 acre island situated off Orient Point at the tip of the North Fork, by dedicating all or a significant fraction of it as Long Island’s newest National Wildlife Refuge!

Presently, the federal legislation which authorized the sale of Plum Island to a private party is still in effect and the General Services Administration (GSA) is moving forward to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the environmental impact of several potential development scenarios. On May 20th the GSA held a hearing to solicit public input on issues relevant to the sale of the Island. A number of individuals and representatives from environmental organizations spoke, including many groups that are part of a newly formed “Preserve Plum Island” Coalition of which all Long Island Audubon chapters are a part. The mission of the Coalition is to have Congress reverse course on Plum Island by introducing and passing legislation which protects most or all of the Island by having it transferred to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Wildlife Refuge.

In its comments to the GSA, the Coalition urged that a complete and full four-season ecological/biological inventory be undertaken on the Island so that a complete and accurate assessment of the impacts development might have on these species and communities can be considered. Regarding alternatives in addition to considering the sale of the entire island for development purposes we asked the GSA to consider selling part of the island for development (the already disturbed footprint) while selling the 85-90% of the island that’s undeveloped for conservation purposes. A number of other individuals and organizations spoke expressing their concerns. Of greatest note was the most welcome joint letter from the Environmental Protection Agency’s two regional offices, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and especially the letter from Congressman Bishop in which he stated his support, publicly for the first time, for the establishment of a National Wildlife Refuge at Plum Island.

We already know much about the ecological worth of the island. For example, the narrow eastern portion of the island serves as a seal haul-out site for as many as several hundred harbor and grey seals during the colder months, making it one of, if not the most significant haul-out site in southern New England. Piping plovers, a federally threatened species, breed on the island and common and roseate terns, a federally endangered species, rest on the beaches of this undisturbed setting and feed actively in the waters surrounding the island as do numerous species of loons, grebes, and sea ducks. The shrubby coastal vegetation that covers the island (including extensive thickets of beach plum which gave the island its name) provides habitat for several dozen breeding birds as well as important migratory stopover habitat for migrating species. This latter feature has been shown to be important for songbird species migrating over water in that it allows them an opportunity to land and feed, thereby replenishing their energy reserves. A large freshwater wetland exists in the southwestern part of the Island. Cultural resources on the island include the Plum Island Lighthouse and the remains of Fort Terry, an old military fortification. These remains include a railroad track on which a small gauge railroad once ran, carrying munitions to needed parts of the island.

Other recent activities by LI Audubon Council representatives on behalf of the Coalition include:

  • LIAC reps. met with Newsday’s editorial staff which resulted in an editorial favorable to the Coalition’s position; on Monday May 10th Newsday ran an editorial entitled “Keep it Wild, but with jobs”.
  • LIAC met with staff from Senator Chuck Schumer’s to explain the Coalition’s perspective. Senator Schumer is very interested in the Coalition’s idea of preserving the Island.
  • LIAC reps appeared on Bob DeLuca’s East End Radio show “Going Green” to discuss the fate of Plum Island.
  • As stated above LIAC spoke at May 20th GSA hearing in Greenport dealing with the proposed disposition of Plum Island.
  • LIAC reps. met with the Southold Town Board and Conservation Advisory Council to express the Coalition’s support for the creation of a National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Through the committed effort of Stella Miller, HOBAS Chapter President, an online petition (, a Facebook page (Preserve Plum Island) and a website ( have been created. Please take the time to check out the website and Facebook page for current news on this issue!

Stay tuned as the story concerning the fate of this environmentally significant island unfolds in the weeks and months ahead.

John Turner
Conservation Chair
Huntington - Oyster Bay Audubon Society

Download this update in PDF format

Preserve Plum Island Coalition - PO Box 735 - Huntington, NY 11743 -