Trump's Plum Island Golf Course Development: Welcome to Anthrax Acres

So, which statement by Donald Trump about his plans to build a golf course on Plum Island, instead of allowing conservationists to convert the 840-acre property off Long Island's North Fork into a wildlife refuge, is more laughable:

"It would be a low-key and beautiful use for the area."

Or, "The community would love what we would do. We're adored all over the world."

Trump, who is to good taste, humility and environmental sensitivity what Miley Cyrus is to wholesome entertainment, made the pronouncements this week in connection with his proposal to buy the island from the federal government after it closes a high-security livestock disease testing lab that has operated there since 1954.

The Donald told the Associated Press that if the General Accounting Office approved the sale, "We would do something, but it would not be on a big scale. We would look at it and come up with something appropriate."

Meanwhile, after the federal government announced its intentions in 2009 to sell Plum Island, environmentalists persuaded officials in Southold Town, N.Y. to rezone the island to prohibit precisely the type of development Trump envisions.

"This is exactly our fear, that this island will become a Club Med for the rich," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the nonprofit group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, told the Long Island newspaper Newsday.

First of all, a good part of Plum Island isn't exactly pristine. In addition to housing the lab that studies foot-and-mouth disease and other illnesses dangerous to cattle and pigs, the island includes a defunct U.S. Army base and a lighthouse. There also have been persistent rumors, always vigorously denied by government officials, that the Plum Island lab has been used to study anthrax.

I would think foes of any Trump project might try to bring this up, since it's not generally a good marketing strategy to attract people to a place connected, however remotely or scurrilously, to a deadly disease.

I don't think you'll be seeing any "Visit Anthrax Acres" sales brochures.

Such ominous reports helped propel the narrative of Nelson DeMille's entertaining 1997 novel, "Plum Island," in which nefarious scientists are suspected of carrying out biological warfare research.

Fanciful tales or not, I've always steered a good distance from Plum Island whenever I've kayaked past there en route to Orient Point from New London. It's a challenging, 28-mile, round-trip excursion that must be timed perfectly with the tides to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of Plum Gut, among the hairiest stretches of confused seas in local waters.

Anyway, I've always seen plenty of gulls, terns and herons on Plum Island, and none seemed any the worse for wear despite the government research. I hope they get to live there quietly, without dodging errant Titleists.

Changing gears, hope many of you can show up Monday for a meeting to discuss plans for a 14-mile trail connecting Groton and Preston. This is a great idea, a lot of people have been working for years to promote it and public support is needed.

Forum Monday on Groton-Preston trail

Groton – State and local officials will participate in a public forum Monday organized by a group working to create a 14-mile trail connecting Bluff Point State Park in Groton.

The panel discussion on "Reservoirs and Recreation: the Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Public Trails on Reservoir Lands" will take place at 7 p.m. at the Groton Senior Center on Route 117.

Panelists will include Paul Yatcko, director at Groton Utilities, which owns reservoir property through which the proposed trail would pass; Laurie Giannotti, trails and greenways coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, which oversees some 700 miles of blue-blazed recreational trails in the state; and Lori Mathieu, who heads the Connecticut Department of Public Health Drinking Water Section.

The association recently learned that the Federal Highways Administration, with the recommendation of The Connecticut Recreational Trails Advisory Board, has approved the Town of Ledyard's application for a $128,000 grant that will help plan the trail and secure rights of way.

The trail would connect 4,000 acres of state and local open space, requiring only seven road crossings. Some 40 percent of the trail already exists so the group just needs to obtain access to about 10 additional property owners.

More information: www.tritowntrail.com.

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

A Chilly Paddle Among The Seals Off Fishers Island

"What did you say the water temperature is?" my buddy Steve Kurczy called out. "Thirty-eight degrees!" "And how long …" He didn’t have to finish the question.

Death In The Antarctic: Adventurers Who Live On The Edge Sometimes Topple Off

Virtually all outdoor enthusiasts, myself included, regard Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1915 as history’s most extraordinary survival tale, in which he and his entire crew managed to make it...

Death In Antarctica: Adventurers Who Live On The Edge Sometimes Topple Off

Virtually all outdoor enthusiasts, myself included, regard Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1915 as history’s most extraordinary survival tale, in which he and his entire crew managed to make it...

Finally, Some Cross-Country Skiing

After emerging on cross-country skis from protective evergreens into an open field the other day, I pulled on a fleece balaclava as an icy gust whipped across frozen ground and a giant, dark shadow advanced with the lowering sun.

Touching The Top Of The Bottom Of The Planet: Mystic Climber Scales Antarctica’s Tallest Mountain

Experienced mountaineers realize that reaching the peak isn’t the most important goal of any climb. The fact is, it doesn’t count unless you get back down.

Nuts About Acorns

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed, as I have on my regular rambles through the woods, that we’re up to our — er, elbows — in acorns.

A Year Of Fun: It All Begins With The New Year’s Day Run-Swim

First of all, it doesn’t hurt that much. Really.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow ... (And Don’t Stick Your Foot Into A Bear Cave)

I know that a month from now, when I could very well be digging out of my driveway just as I was in the accompanying photo taken last winter, I may have to eat these words, but ... Come on! Where’s all the snow?!

An Impromptu Kayak Circumnavigation of Fishers Island in December: Glad I Missed the ‘Fun’ Part

You know those adventures you could have experienced but had to pass up for one reason or another, and then when you later ask how it went your friends gush, "Oh, man, it was awesome! Best time of our life! You shoulda been...

Celebrating Second-place Slackers: A Quiz

Back when my son Tom and I were tagging all 67 of the 4,000-plus-foot mountains in New England, a perverse idea crossed my mind: What if we stopped inches short of each peak and then climbed back down?

With The Fagin Fitness Ankle Bracelet or Fagin Fitness Implant, You WILL Get In Shape!

The problem with Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Withings Pulse, Microsoft Band and other electronic fitness trackers is that, like so many old-school aids designed to get people off their butts and into shape (workout charts, personal trainers,...

Beware The Deadly Deer

Every season presents the potential for paradise or peril.

Autumn Berries: A Succulent Reward During A Long Bike Ride

While biking through the hills and along the shore of Mystic and Stonington the other day with my friend Spyros "Spy" Barres and son Tom, I began to regret that I neglected to bring along a water bottle.

The Rites – And Wrongs – Of Autumn

It’s finally happened: I’ve grown so accustomed to the roar of the leaf blower that I now longer recoil and curse at the first sonic blast of fall, but simply shake my head and sigh.