The New Jersey Highlands is 80,000 acres of largely contiguous forest stretching from Northwest Bergen County to Northern Hunterdon County. The Highlands is one of New Jersey's most important natural resources and is critical to New Jersey's environment and economy.
The New Jersey Highlands Protection Act is one of New Jersey's most important drinking water laws. Since passage of this landmark law, Clean Water Action has been working to implement and strengthen the Highlands Regional Master Plan. In addition, we helped secure a Highlands Executive Order (EO) that addresses some of the master plan's flaws and strengthens the document further by ensuring little to no growth in preservation zone communities.
Unfortunately, the Highlands Council, charged with implementing this law, consists of very weak members, including Jim Rilee, a known OPPONENT of the Highlands Act itself! We believe in common sense, however its not common sense to put someone in charge of implementing a law they don't believe in.
Clean Water Action will continue working to ensure the Highlands Regional Master Plan is the most protective it can be and the towns fully comply within the mandated time table. At the same time, we will maintain a keen eye on local development projects for their consistency with the overall Highlands protection strategy.
We are happy to have played a key role, along with local community activists, to permanently protect Petty's Island as an ecological, cultural and historical preserve. Petty's Island, a 529-acre island located in the Delaware River (close to Camden and Philadelphia) is a treasured area, home to nesting bald eagles, endangered herons, and other wildlife.
The Keep It Green Campaign is a coalition of over 90 environmental organizations, land trusts, sportsmen's groups, faith-based groups, watershed associations, and historic preservation, affordable housing and urban park advocates from across the state working to ensure funding for the state's GSPT. The GSPT has been the nation's most successful open space program, saving hundreds of thousands of acres a year, but is running out of funding. Protecting open space is not only important to the environment, but it is also a key cog in NJ's economic engine.
Historically, voters have supported funding for open space. For example, on Election Day 2007, voters decided YES on Ballot Question #3, the Green Acres, Farmland, Blue Acres and Historic Preservation Bond Act, to provide funding to protect NJ's open space, farmland, and historic places from development.
Clean Water Action and the Keep it Green campaign have been working hard to preserve NJ's open space. In 2007, we ran radio ads and held numerous press events to support funding for the GSPT.
We must protect open space and stop sprawl or we will continue to see adverse impacts on the state's drinking water supply, as well as the loss of parks and recreational opportunities for our children and families.
Listen to the ad (.mp3)
Clean Water Action, along with NJ Audubon and other environmental groups have launched a campaign to protect New Jersey's critical wildlife habitat. Habitat protection rules exist but have yet to be released for comment. While we wait, towns like yours continue to lose ground and critical habitat to over-development. Critical habitat areas: