A bill to prevent the sale of Plum Island is being brought back to Congress.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R- Shirley) said this week he had reintroduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House to prevent the sale of Plum Island to the highest bidder.
If passed, the bill would allow for continued research, public access and permanent preservation of the island and suspend previous laws mandating the federal government’s sale of Plum Island.
The plan will also require the exploration of alternative uses for the island, including transferring ownership to the local or state government, another federal agency, nonprofit or a combination of those.
“The current law, which mandates the sale of the island to the highest bidder, is the wrong path forward, because it does not provide for public access and permanent preservation of the island, or the continued use of the research infrastructure,” said Zeldin.
A similar bill offering to protect Plum Island passed the House last year, but failed in the Senate.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he was pleased with the news, calling Plum Island “very important to the East End community.”
On whether the second attempt to pass a Plum Island bill would be successful, Russell said he was “optimistic” about the bill’s chances.
“I always have to think optimistically,” said Russell. “Zeldin took the last one very far, so the prospect of being able to take this one to the finish line seems more hopeful.”
Louise Harrison, a Peconic resident and outreach coordinator for Save the Sound, said her group was excited with the new legislation, adding she hoped both the House and Senate would be able to come to an agreement on the bill.
“It’s an ecological gem,” said Harrison of the island, adding the island was a vital refuge for various wildlife species while its research facility providing hundreds of jobs in the North Fork. “There’s no other place like it.”