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Long Island needs Rep. Lee Zeldin to preserve Plum Island

The Plum Island lighthouse is shown on Tuesday,

The Plum Island lighthouse is shown on Tuesday, March 22, 2005. Credit: AP / Bill Davis

There has been no shortage of bills, proposals and news conferences geared toward stopping the sale of Plum Island to a private buyer. And still, the brakes have not been applied.

Now Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is optimistic that he can get approval for new legislation he’s written that would suspend a sale and lead the federal government to preserve the island for education, research or conservation. We hope he’s right. Plum Island is an environmental treasure that should remain in the public’s hands.

Concerns about the island’s fate began in 2008 when the Department of Homeland Security decided to move its animal disease research center to Kansas and sell Plum Island to offset the cost of the new facility. DHS is studying alternative uses for Plum Island. Zeldin’s bill would stop a sale while the Government Accountability Office analyzes the DHS findings. GAO would determine the feasibility and cost of transferring the island to the state, a local government, a nonprofit or, most likely, another federal agency such as the National Park Service or U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that could protect Plum Island as a federal preserve. That also is the goal of a proposal from New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and their Connecticut colleagues. Zeldin says he thinks his bill will pass the House and expects Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to sponsor it in the Senate.

Plum Island supporters fear developers with condo plans. Donald Trump once pitched a golf course. But 90 percent of the 840-acre gem is undeveloped, and should remain that way. Zeldin has promised that being part of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives means he can better deliver for Long Island. Now he needs to close the deal to prevent development on Plum Island. — The editorial board