WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Highlands Conservation Act, which would allow states to access matching federal funding for projects to promote conservation, tourism, and recreation in the region. The Highlands Region of the Northeastern United States consists of forested mountains and hills stretching from Connecticut, through New York and New Jersey, to Pennsylvania. This legislation will give these four states resources to conserve land and natural resources, particularly a clean water supply that is essential for serving more than 20 million people in the densely populated areas around the Highlands Region.
“The Highlands aren’t just a pretty landscape – they're 3.5 million acres of forest and farmland that are home to hundreds of diverse wildlife species and that make the northwest corner of our state so special. We’ve made great progress so far preserving the pristine nature of the Highlands, but it is by no means permanent,” said Senator Murphy. “As one of the most densely populated regions in the country, the Highlands are constantly threatened by development pressures. The Highlands Conservation Act will make sure that my colleagues in Washington listen to the needs of Connecticut’s local residents and preserve this precious resource.”
“The Hudson Highlands are one of our most special national treasures, and we must continue to protect the beauty and tradition of this remarkable place for generations to come,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Reauthorizing the Highlands Conservation Act will ensure our communities have the resources they need to preserve local forests, waterways, and open spaces, while promoting the tourism and recreational activities that are so important to economic growth. This legislation will continue successful public-private partnerships in the four-state Highlands region and support thousands of jobs across the region.”
The Highlands Conservation Act was first enacted in 2004 and expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2014. The Highlands is a nationally significant landscape that yields benefits and resources to more than 11 million Americans. First authorized in 2004 at $10 million per year for 10 years, the Highlands Conservation Act authorization expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2014. To date, the program has protected more than 5,900 acres of conservation land in the Highlands Region of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and leveraged $17.25 million in federal funding with an additional $34.4 million in non-federal matching funds. Murphy and Gillibrand’s bill would extend authorization of Highlands Conservation Act programs for an additional seven years.