The goal of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition is to secure the permanent protection of the significant natural and cultural resources of Plum Island.
tell congress to preservE plum island permanently.
The mission of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition (PPIC) is to secure the permanent protection of the significant natural and cultural resources of Plum Island. The PPIC advocates for comprehensive solutions that safeguard this national treasure; this includes dedicating Plum Island’s undeveloped acreage, approximately 80% of the island, as a National Wildlife Refuge, or creating a preserve providing equivalent protection in perpetuity. The PPIC recognizes the existence of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) and the jobs supported by this facility. If the Center is closed, and no adaptive reuse occurs, the PPIC supports the removal of non-historic buildings and surplus infrastructure, the clean-up and restoration of any impacted resources and the dedication of the PIADC property as conservation lands.
why it matters
Less than a mile from Orient Point, at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork, lies the 840 acre pork-chop shaped Plum Island. This pristine island - home to hundreds of species, some rare and endangered - is at risk of development. That's a terrible idea.
Stop the Proposed Sale of the Island
Despite the significant natural, cultural, scenic and recreational values of Plum Island, in 2008 Congress passed, and the President signed, PL 110-329, part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act. This legislation directed the sale of the “real and related personal property and transportation assets which support Plum Island operations, subject to such terms and conditions as necessary to protect government interests and meet program requirements,” if it should be determined that the PIADC should be moved to a new location. Pub. L. No. 110-329. A site in Kansas has subsequently been selected for the new facility, and the General Services Administration (GSA) is readying Plum Island for sale. Despite the fact that the law requires only sale of only those parts of Plum Island that “support Plum Island operations” GSA is seeking to sell the entire Plum Island in an auction to the highest bidder. Moreover, despite the fact that they were required to impose conditions to “protect government interests and meet program requirements,” GSA is failing to comply with provisions in the Endgangered Species Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, EPA cleanup requirements and other laws and programs designed to protect government interests in conservation and the environment.
These plans are moving forward and we need your help to halt them!
The U.S. General Services Administration has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Plum Island. This DEIS details the environmental impact a sale would have on the island. Unfortunately, the GSA recommends a sale of the Island within this report, despite the detrimental impact it would have on the island's remarkable wildlife and habitat.
We advocate for a comprehensive solution that safeguards this national treasure by dedicating the Island's undeveloped acreage, (approximately 80% of the island) as a National Wildlife Refuge, or creating a preserve providing equivalent protection in perpetuity.
We recognize the importance of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and the jobs supported by this facility. If the Center is closed, and no adaptive reuse occurs, the we support removing non-historic buildings and surplus infrastructure, clean-up and restoration of impacted resources and the dedication of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center property to conservation.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN make it happen
Long Island government agencies have scored signature conservation goals by preserving open space and establishing numerous public parks. Seven Suffolk towns, along with Suffolk County, have collectively spent nearly $1 Billion to preserve tens of thousands of acres. New York State has also committed over $100 million over the past two decades to acquiring conservation land parcels. But the federal government’s role in all this activity has been inconsequential. Preserving Plum Island as a National Wildlife Refuge would be a meaningful demonstration of the federal government’s commitment to protecting open spaces.
with great ECONOMIC BENEFITS for all
Several studies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have shown that refuges are very popular places. Public access and fishing, allowed in many refuges as long as the activities are compatible with management goals, help support local economies. A Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge could do likewise, inviting the public to learn at a visitor center, hike on the numerous trails, visit the lighthouse and Fort Terry, and enjoy world-class wildlife viewing opportunities. Tourists and other visitors would spend money in the local economy, which would support jobs, improved environmental health, and biological diversity.
What we've done recently
Court Battle: A coalition of organizations*, Save the Sound, Group for the East End, Peconic Baykeeper, and three individuals, filed a lawsuit in 2016 against the federal government to block the sale of Plum Island. They attained a good deal of success in 2018. The parties argued that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the sale was inadequate, that conservation alternatives were ignored, and that the agencies therefore violated the National Environmental Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, and other federal laws in putting the island up for sale. Judge Denis Hurley denied the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in January 2018, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. This alone was a victory and very encouraging.
* The Preserve Plum Island Coalition, itself, is not a party to and not involved in the lawsuit.
Yet it gets better. In August 2018, after the ruling on the motion to dismiss, the federal government appeared to acknowledge most of the arguments: The General Services Administration (GSA) published a notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The re-done document would consider a more detailed environmental study and analysis and is supposed to adequately address the provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. The GSA will start a new public process for input, analysis, and review in 2019.
The lawsuit plaintiffs are concerned that the new SEIS does not appear to be directed toward correcting the primary legal flaw in the original EIS process – the agencies’ failure to consider conservation or a conservation sale of the island as an alternative. The plaintiff organizations are continuing to advocate for that in the SEIS process and potentially through continuation of the lawsuit. The Morrison Foerster law firm is working with Save the Sound’s attorneys and representing the plaintiffs pro bono.
Legislation: In recent years, New York lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to stop the sale of Plum Island, with limited success. In April 2017, Congressman Lee Zeldin re-introduced his 2016 bill to halt the sale of Plum Island, which passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
Local Government Support: In April 2017, Long Island’s East End Mayors and Supervisors banded together to issue Plum Island conservation request letters to New York legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo. These followed a January 2017 letter from the village of Greenport urging New York Senator Charles Schumer to ensure the island stays in federal ownership.
Local Authority: In May 2017, all 18 members of the Suffolk County Legislature signed a letter sent to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to utilize the state’s authority to stop the federal government from selling Plum Island.
Coalition Support: As of April 2018, the Preserve Plum Island Coalition has grown to include more than 100 organizations fighting to see the island’s undeveloped acreage protected in perpetuity as a National Wildlife Refuge or preserve.