Preserving Little Gull

Expectations are that the General Services Administration will soon announce the winning bid in the sale of Little Gull Island, and while it is difficult to assess all the bids because they remain sealed, the tender presented by the New London Maritime Society has much to offer and deserves serious consideration.

It is, however, not the highest bid of the several proposals submitted in October. The GSA reports the highest bid came in at $381,000, substantially more than the society's $150,000 offer. We urge the GSA in making its final evaluation to consider factors other than bid size in determining the true value of the various proposals.

The 1-acre island, which sits between Plum and Fishers islands in Long Island Sound, is among a group of former Coast Guard lighthouse properties the federal government is selling. Little Gull's 1869 granite tower lighthouse stands 81-feet high and includes an automated navigation light and horn blast every 15 seconds. Both signals will continue to operate after the sale.

The tiny island has both historical and natural significance. Managed properly, it can play an important role for nesting seabirds, especially with its proximity to Great Gull Island, which supports the Northeast's largest concentration of endangered roseate terns.

The New London Maritime Society proposes in its offer that it would take stewardship of the Little Gull lighthouse, while the National Fish & Wildlife Service would oversee management of the habitat, including a seal rookery.

Already responsible for the Custom House in New London and the New London Harbor Light, the Maritime Society has a history of preserving important artifacts of the region's history. Support for its bid from Save the Sound and The Quebec-Labrador Foundation, a non-profit group that supports conservation efforts in the North Atlantic region, shows confidence in the society's plans to preserve this ecologically significant little island.

Residents who back the Maritime Society's bid can contact their elected leaders or write to the GSA directly at gabrielle.sigel@gsa.gov. (The society asks that you send them a copy of your email at nlmaritimedirector@gmail.com.)

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