Peconic resident heads to DC to deliver testimony on preserving Plum Island: How to watch livestream

Louise Harrison, the natural area manager for Save the Sound, is heading down to Washington D.C. to testify before a congressional subcommittee regarding the designation of Plum Island as a national monument.

Elected officials at various levels of government, from Southold Town to the Suffolk County Legislature and the rotating House members representing the 1st Congressional District, as well as several advocacy groups have been pushing for Plum Island’s preservation for years. Save the Sound, a New York- and Connecticut-based nonprofit, has played a key role these efforts and spearheads the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, a membership made up of 130 national, regional and local organizations that have been working to ensure the island’s permanent conservation.

On March 15, 2023, Rep. Nick LaLota introduced the Plum Island National Monument Act, which calls for the 840-acre landmass to be “established as a national monument for the purpose of ecological conservation, historical preservation, and the discovery and celebration of our shared cultural heritage.”

If Mr. LaLota’s bill laid the foundation, Ms. Harrison’s testimony on behalf of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition could help Congress erect the beams and walls that will form a passable law. The Peconic resident and conservation biologist’s testimony will be live streamed and can be viewed here.

“It’s got some basic provisions, so they’re going to need start marking it up and putting some detail in it,” Ms. Harrison said during a telephone interview she took while venturing down to the nation’s capital. “I don’t know how long that would take, and the Preserve Plum Island Coalition is happy to work with the Congressman on that … At a certain point, the chair [of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Federal Lands] will decide if it can be referred up to the main committee, which is the house Natural Resources Committee.”

Plum Island, located approximately a mile and a half east of Orient Point, is home to the federal Plum Island Animal Disease Center and boasts a relatively untouched landscape, as the island has remained essentially off-limits to visitors with limited exception for decades. The Department of Homeland Security is slated to finish closing the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in 2028 and relocate research to a new facility in Manhattan, Kan.