On Friday, Third District Congressman Tom Suozzi announced the official renaming of the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge to the Congressman Lester Wolff National Wildlife Refuge. Congressman Lester Wolff, is the oldest living former member of Congress, at 101, and was instrumental in the creation of the federal refuge in 1968.
Suozzi and Wolff were joined at the press conference by Bayville Mayor Robert Denatale and members of Friends of the Bay, whose mission is to preserve, protect and restore the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Estuary and the surrounding watershed. The press conference was held at the Mill River Rod and Gun in Bayville, which overlooks the Congressman Lester Wolff National Wildlife Refuge.
In a statement Senator Chuck Schumer, who with Suozzi led the legislative process resulting in the renaming, paid tribute to former congressman Wolffe. “Lester’s tireless advocacy for Long Island deserves to be commemorated and I can think of no better tribute than naming this ecological treasure in his honor."
Congressman Wolff served in Congress from 1964 until 1981. In the late sixties, he spearheaded the effort to block the Oyster Bay-Rye bridge. He overcame powerful opposition from both Roberts Moses, the famed New York planner, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Were it not for his tireless advocacy, the 8.5-mile bridge would have been built across Long Island Sound. The Congressman recognized that the bridge would despoil the Long Island Sound and fought to preserve the space. The success was a critical turning point in our environmental history.
The refuge is located on the north shore of Long Island and is the largest refuge in the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Covering 3,209 acres, the refuge includes subtidal habitats, a salt marsh, and a freshwater pond. The refuge is home to a wide variety of animal life and is especially important for wintering waterfowl.