12.16.20

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND PERMANENTLY BLOCK REQUIRED SALE OF PLUM ISLAND TO ‘HIGHEST BIDDER’ BY NEGOTIATING REPEAL OF SALE INTO MUST-PASS SPENDING BILL; SCHUMER-LED EFFORT 1) REPEALS SALE 2) ALLOWS LOCALS TO DECIDE ON ISLAND’S FUTURE & 3) PROVIDES $18.9M TO DHS TO START CLEANUP OF LAND

Existing Law That Required Plum Island To Be Sold By Admin Of General Services Admin (GSA) Is Finally Repealed   

Schumer, Gillibrand Have An Extensive History Fighting For Plum Island & Always Said Its Sale & Development Threatened Irreplaceable Habitat For Endangered Species & Environmental Resources on LI 

Schumer, Gillibrand: Longtime Push To Save Plum Island From Some ‘High Bidder’ Is Now Official   

On the heels of negotiations to reach a deal on a federal spending bill, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the sale of Long Island’s Plum Island, a worry for locals and environmental advocates, is now officially off the table, after years of angst.

Schumer and Gillibrand said a provision in the must-pass spending bill prevents the sale to a ‘highest bidder’ or anyone else until locals decide on the Island’s future. In the meantime, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will retain ownership and maintenance of the Island, preserving its natural habitat and its environmental benefit all while delivering a sigh of relief to locals who had great concern for what could happen in the future to the property and its surroundings. Also, the spending bill includes $18.9 million to start the cleanup of the Island.      

“Our longtime push to save Plum Island from some ‘high bidder’ or anyone else who might neglect its natural resources, environmental value, our local stakeholders and concerned communities is now realized—Plum Island is saved and its sale is finally off the table,” said Senator Schumer. “It would have been a grave mistake to sell and develop Plum Island’s 840-acres of habitat, which is home to many endangered species. That’s why preventing the unnecessary sale requirement was a top priority of these negotiations. Now the people of Long Island will have their say in its future—and rightfully so.”  

“After years of fighting to keep the unnecessary sale of Plum Island off the table, Long Islanders can finally celebrate the preservation and protection of this rare national treasure for generations to come,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This victory belongs to local activists and conservationists who knew all along that this was a fight we couldn’t afford to sit out.” 

Schumer and Gillibrand have long-opposed the sale of Plum Island and supported legislation to repeal the sale requirement and preserve the Island for conservation purposes. These collective efforts helped build momentum and apply pressure to the cause, but until today, the Island’s future was unknown and ominous. 

The 840-acre Plum Island is home to a number of species, including Osprey, Bank Swallow, Piping Plovers as well as many plants. Plum Island and the adjacent Great Gull and Little Gull Islands were recognized for their “exemplary” ecological value and identified for protection in 2006 by the Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative, which was established by Congress. According to the final Environmental Impact Statement for the sale of the Island, a vast number of species could be impacted under possible development scenarios, including several threated and endangered species such as the piping plover, the roseate tern, and the Atlantic Ridley Sea Turtle.

Schumer and Gillibrand described how preserving Plum Island is also historically significant for the region because the Island is home to Fort Terry and the Plum Island Light.  Fort Terry was first built as part of a late 19th, early 20th century coastal defense system for the Long Island Sound before becoming acquired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Plum Island Light is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This is a true win for Long Island, the environment, its rich history, and the communities and advocates who were so rightfully worried about what might happen next—now they will help decide the future,” Schumer added.

A copy the “Plum Island” amendment Schumer negotiated into the must-pass spending bill appears below. The bill must pass by the end of the day Friday in order to fund the government.

SEC. ____. REPEAL OF REQUIREMENT TO SELL CERTAIN FEDERAL PROPERTY IN PLUM ISLAND, NEW YORK.

(a) Repeal of Requirement in Public Law 110–329.—Section 540 of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2009 (division D of Public Law 110–329; 122 Stat. 3688) is repealed.

(b) Repeal of Requirement in Public Law 112–74.—Section 538 of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2012 (6 U.S.C. 190 note; division D of Public Law 112–74) is repealed.

(c) Requirement.—The Administrator of General Services shall ensure that—

  1. Federal property commonly known as Plum Island, New York, including the Orient point facility, all real and personal property and transportation assets that support Plum Island operations and access to Plum Island, be disposed of as a single consolidated asset; and
  2. such disposal is subject to conditions as may be necessary to protect Government interests and meet program requirements.


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