NEW HAVEN — The planned sale of animal disease research site Plum Island needs to be halted, members of Connecticut’s and New York’s congressional delegations told their colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Wednesday.
Selling the remote 840-acre island could jeopardize its undeveloped sanctuary for wildlife and native plants, the lawmakers said. The lobbying effort by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Rep. Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y., and others is the most recent in a series of moves to protect Plum Island, off the eastern tip of Long Island.
Congress voted in 2008 to close the animal disease research site and move its work to Manhattan, Kansas. The federal General Service Administration is required by law to sell the island and may not transfer it to another federal agency, such as the U.S. National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for preservation.
The senators and House members asked the Appropriations Committees to repeal legislative language compelling the sale of Plum Island.
“As members from the Long Island Sound region, we remain deeply concerned about the effects of a possible forced sale and development of the Island on the landscape and ecological value of the area,” the lawmakers said.
The Nature Conservancy recently estimated the appraised value of the island at $32.9 million, the congressional delegation said. Selling the island would do little to defray the more than $1 billion the Kansas site is expected to cost, the lawmakers said.
The rationale for selling the island to the highest bidder “no longer makes economic sense,” they said.