Resolution J3347-2011

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

Details

Actions

  • Mar 1, 2012: ADOPTED
  • Mar 1, 2012: REPORTED TO CALENDAR FOR CONSIDERATION
  • Feb 23, 2012: REFERRED TO FINANCE

Text

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
purpose

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;
and
  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
further
  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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