Recognizing the unique characteristics of Plum Island in Suffolk County and opposing its sale

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  • 23 / Feb / 2012
  • 01 / Mar / 2012
  • 01 / Mar / 2012

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative



LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION urging the New York State Congressional deleg-
ation to repeal those provisions of Public Law 110-329 requiring the
sale of Plum Island and to oppose any sale of Plum Island for any

WHEREAS, Plum Island, so named due to the abundance of beach plums grow-
ing there, is an 843-acre island situated off Long Island's North Fork
in the Town of Southold; and
WHEREAS, Plum Island is owned by the U.S. Government and is the site
of the Plum Island Animal Disease Control Laboratory at which research
is conducted on contagious animal diseases, first under the aegis of the
Department of Agriculture but since 2003, under the supervision of the
Department of Homeland Security; and
WHEREAS, The facilities of the laboratory take up approximately 10-15%
of the Island, entirely in the northwestern corner of the Island, with
the remaining areas of the Island occurring in its natural state; and
WHEREAS, Plum Island contains nationally significant natural,
cultural, historic, and scenic features and resources; and
WHEREAS, More particularly, these natural resources include over 140
bird species which occur in and around Plum Island including federally
endangered and threatened species such as the federally endangered
Roseate Tern and federally threatened Piping Plover; and
WHEREAS, The fields, forests, wetlands, and shoreline habitats of Plum
Island provide habitat essential to migratory songbirds, waterbirds, and
birds-of-prey including the presence of an active Bank Swallow colony
and eight active Osprey nests; and
WHEREAS, Plum Island contains the largest winter haul out site for
marine pinnipeds in southern New England, typically involving several
hundred harbor and grey seals that utilize the rocky coastline of the
Island's east end for this purpose; and
WHEREAS, Plum Island contains significant natural communities and
plant species including an extensive wooded freshwater wetland in the
southwestern section of the Island and a maritime dune community, a New
York State Natural Heritage Program ranked community which collectively
provides habitat for a number of rare and endangered plant species
including seabeach and slender knotweed, blackjack oak, and spring
ladies' tresses; and
WHEREAS, More particularly, these cultural and historic resources
include the Plum Island Lighthouse situated on the western edge of the
Island, serving to warn mariners of the dangers in traversing Plum Gut
and Fort Terry, a fortification built for the Spanish-American War and
for which remains are scattered throughout the Island including several
extant batteries and a toy gauge railroad system once used to move arma-
ments to these batteries; and
WHEREAS, Due to Plum Island's existing network of trails and roads and
extensively undeveloped character and remoteness and location of the
North Fork at the point where the Peconic Estuary, Long Island Sound,
and Atlantic Ocean meet, the Island provides unparalleled opportunities
to the general public for passive recreational activities such as bird-
watching and hiking and enjoying the scenic landscapes of the East End;
WHEREAS, Plum Island is situated where the Long Island Sound and
Peconic Bay meet, each being estuaries that are part of the National
Estuary Program, thereby reflecting each natural system's nationally-
significant environmental and economic values to the region, and into
which the federal government has invested hundreds of millions of feder-

al dollars over the last two decades for long-term improvements in the
conservation and management needs of each; and
WHEREAS, Despite all of the nationally significant natural, ecologi-
cal, historic, cultural, scenic, and recreational values elaborated
above, in 2008 Congress approved and the President signed P.L. 110-329,
part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing
Appropriations Act, a provision of which (Section 540) authorized the
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to "liquidate the Plum
Island asset" if he determines the National Bio and Agro-defense facili-
ty (NBAF) be located at a site other than Plum Island; and
WHEREAS, Part of the rational for disposing of Plum Island is to use
proceeds from the sale of the Island, after decommissioning costs, to
help reduce the costs of site acquisition and construction of the new
proposed NBAF facility proposed to be sited in Manhattan, Kansas; and
WHEREAS, The Federal Department of Homeland Security Secretary has
made the requisite determination, thus initiating the process of
disposal of this publicly-owned Island, that at the current time,
involves the General Services Administration preparing an Environmental
Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA); and
WHEREAS, The proposed disposition of Plum Island runs counter to past
dispositions of federal property which have led to the creation of
several National Wildlife Refuges in proximity to Plum Island including
No Mans Island National Wildlife Refuge in coastal Massachusetts, and
Block Island and Satchuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in coastal
Rhode Island; and
WHEREAS, This proposed disposition runs counter to the several decade
long effort by state and local government on Long Island expending near-
ly $1 billion to acquire parkland possessing ecological, environmental,
cultural, historic, recreational and scenic value in the New York metro-
politan area; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the New York State Congressional delegation be and
hereby is respectfully memorialized by this Legislative Body to repeal
those provisions of Public Law 110-329 requiring the sale of Plum Island
and to oppose any sale of Plum Island for any purpose, in recognition of
the extraordinary ecological, wildlife habitat, environmental, cultural,
historic, recreational and scenic values possessed by Plum Island; and
be it further
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause further to support trans-
ferring the underdeveloped portions of Plum Island to the National Wild-
life Refuge system and dedicated as "Plum Island National Wildlife
Refuge", or in the event the Plum Island Animal Disease Control Facility
is permanently closed and the buildings and associated infrastructures
are not adaptively re-used the entire Island be so dedicated; and be it
RESOLVED, That copies of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to each member of the Congressional delegation from the State of
New York.


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