PRESERVE PLUM ISLAND, ONE OF LONG ISLAND SOUND'S PREMIER ISLAND SITES
WHAT IS PLUM ISLAND?
Lying just 10 miles off Connecticut's shore and about 1.5 miles off the northeast coast of Long Island in New York waters is Plum Island, an 840-acre island of mostly undisturbed lush wild habitat. Due to its partial use as a federal research facility, most of the island has remained an undeveloped sanctuary for wildlife, like Osprey, Bank Swallow, and Piping Plovers, and native plants.
However, now the research facility may be moved to another part of the country and the federal government is preparing to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder, putting this rare island at risk of intensive private development that could ruin wildlife habitats, pollute the Sound, and preclude future public access.
WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT PLUM ISLAND?
Island habitats are a rare and treasured thing. This one is approximately three miles long and one mile wide and almost 90 percent undeveloped. The parts that are developed include the historic sites of Plum Gut Lighthouse and Fort Terry army facilities, and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which employs more than 300 people from Connecticut and New York.
The island has received several important designations by state and national organizations, including:
- Important Bird Area – Audubon New York
- Critical Natural Resource Area – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Peconic Bay Environs Critical Environmental Area – Suffolk County, NY
- Coastal Significant Fish and Wildlife Habitat – NYS Department of State
- Environmental Stewardship Area – Long Island Sound Study
WHAT CAN BE DONE
Our federal and state governments identified 33 valuable stewardship sites around Long Island Sound for the purpose of conserving and restoring a network of great coastal places for current and future generations.
Plum Island and the other Gull Islands were recognized as an "exemplary" habitat area deserving of special protection. The undeveloped majority of the island could become part of the Sound's existing wildlife refuge system.
The beaches, marshes, and forests of Plum Island could be protected as open space, and trails could eventually be added for the public to enjoy. The already developed portion could be sold for low impact re-use. There are many options that would let Connecticut and New York citizens connect with one of the Sound's last great places.
Plum Island is a bellwether for the fate of the Sound—we must work together to ensure this public treasure is not auctioned off to private developers.