This guest post by Senator Richard Blumenthal highlights the need for federal conservation measures to protect Plum Island. Save the Sound thanks Senator Blumenthal for his longstanding role as a champion of Plum Island.
I have been fighting—unyielding and unceasing—to keep Plum Island pristine for decades. As Attorney General of Connecticut, I worked hand-in-hand with advocacy groups to keep the island a development-free area for wildlife to flourish. As a United States Senator, I have continued to champion the cause. Last summer, I led a delegation with Congressman Joe Courtney to visit the waters near the island and explore its unique characteristics firsthand.
I have also supported additional funding for conservation and restoration, through channels such as the Long Island Sound Study, the Sea Grant program, and the Hurricane Sandy supplemental federal funding package. I know that the historical and environmental significance of Plum Island should continue to make it a priority for Connecticut’s public servants—just as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recognized when it designated the island a Critical Natural Resource Area.
Unfortunately, the federal government remains determined to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder. The potential development that may occur in the aftermath of such a sale would have catastrophic consequences for the island’s many undisturbed wilderness areas and the plants and animals that reside there. Private development could ruin habitats, pollute the Long Island Sound, and preclude future public access.
Those who argue that there is no alternative are simply wrong. Congressman Courtney and I have introduced legislation in both chambers of Congress that would repeal the ill-advised law requiring the General Services Administration (GSA) to auction off Plum Island. Instead, GSA should be empowered to transfer the island—as it does other government land—to a government or private steward that will give the area the protection it deserves. Instead of allowing oceanfront condos or industrial facilities, we should ensure that the undeveloped parts of the island remain part of the Sound’s existing wildlife refuge system.
I have been in contact with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to reaffirm my concerns about the sale, and I will continue my efforts to ensure that future generations have access to Plum Island. I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this blog, and I will continue to stand with advocates like you to protect this extraordinary natural resource.
United States Senate