Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spring is in the Air...and an Update on Plum Island

It's happening... the familiar calls of the red wing blackbird, “konkereee”, have just begun to fill the air!  This means spring is just around the corner and we can now begin to eagerly anticipate the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day.  No silly, not for the green beer (not that there is anything wrong with that!).  For the return of Long Island’s iconic bird, the osprey, who seem to consistently return around this holiday year after year.  This has been a cold and bitter winter, one we have not seen the likes of in many years.  But once the osprey returns, we will know that spring is within sight. Just like that, as all seasons pass, so shall winter, morphing into the bright colors and warmer days of spring.  Birds will wing their way back to our area, geared up for nesting season. Mammals will emerge from hibernation, hungry and ready to start families.  We will come out of our own hibernation as this winter becomes nothing but a memory in our minds.  Spring will be especially welcome this year!

It has been awhile since the last update on Plum Island.  As you might know, HOBAS was a founding member of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition and continues to be active in the efforts.  Below is a brief summary of some of what has occurred since our last update:

  1.  In the event of a sale of the island, zoning has been adopted the Town of Southold which will designate over 80% of the Island as a “Conservation District”.  This will exclude residential or commercial development, except as a limited accessory use to support the primary conservation use.
  2. A bill, "Save, Don't Sell Plum Island", was introduced by Congressman Tim Bishop in the House of Representatives, along with companion legislation which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal.  These bipartisan bills are aimed at protecting the Island's tremendous biodiversity and ecological value.  Future development of Plum Island would be prevented by the elimination of the current requirement to sell the Island at public auction.
  3. Commissioned by The Nature Conservancy, an appraisal report of the Island is expected to be complete sometime in March. 
  4. Better conservation stewardship of the Island is being proposed.  These measures would be in place whether or not the Island is sold or not and they include additional biological inventories conducted by the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) and management and possible reintroduction of certain plants and animals.
  5. Completion of an inventory, remediation and disclosure of all hazardous waste sites on the Island as called for by Governor Cuomo.
  6. The Plum Island Coalition intends to participate in the Coastal Zone management Compliance Review by NYS.
  7. The Coalition is considering legal challenges to the completeness and findings of the FEIS submitted by the GSA for the sale of the Island. 

Please be sure to visit the Coalition website for updates.

 And remember...once the temperatures rise and the big thaw begins, be sure to get outside, rid yourself of that winter pallor and enjoy some warm and sunny days as you embrace the arrival of spring!