The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bipartisan bill to prevent the sale of Plum Island by the federal government to the highest bidder.
If the Plum Island Preservation Act is passed, it would suspend laws passed in 2008 and 2011 that mandated the public sale of the island. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).
For years, local environmental advocates, Southold residents and elected officials have called for the preservation of the island, which is home to numerous wildlife species and provides hundreds of jobs on the North Fork via the island’s research facility.
The legislation — brought to Congress in April — would commission the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, which owns the island, to formulate a comprehensive plan for the future of Plum Island. The plan would also explore alternative uses for the island, including transferring ownership to the local government, a nonprofit, a different federal agency or a combination of those.
Zeldin called Plum Island “an essential cultural and historical resource” and said selling the island was “the wrong path forward.”
“We must ensure there is a better path forward that allows for public access, the permanent preservation of the island, and/or the continued use of the research infrastructure with a state-of-the-art research facility currently in existence on the Island,” Zeldin said.