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Drawing of water & shore

New Jersey Highlands

NJ’s major water source, with extensive diverse natural habitat, faces risk of overdevelopment


The New Jersey Highlands planning region, defined by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act is part of a larger geophysical region ranging from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. This region is a vital open space reserve complementing the densely developed population centers of Philadelphia, northern New Jersey, New York City and eastern Connecticut. Overall, the region provides a host of natural functions necessary for sustaining the developed northeastern United States.

One of these important natural functions is providing drinking water to the residents of the Highlands themselves and to a broad area of intensely developed land outside of the Highlands region.

For example, while the Highlands region makes up only about 17 percent of New Jersey’s land area, 64% of New Jersey’s residents rely on the Highlands for their drinking water drawn primarily from its surface waters. Within the Highlands region itself nearly all drinking water comes from local groundwater sources.

The New Jersey Highlands planning region includes all or parts of 88 municipalities and seven counties that contain a wealth of natural resources including:

The vital natural values and functions present in the Highlands region are under imminent threat from unconscious development, suburban sprawl and natural resource abuse. To protect these essential functions for future generations, the New Jersey State Legislature responded with the passage of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act in 2004.

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ANJEC Positions on Highlands Issues

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ANJEC’s Highlands Herald

ANJEC’s Highlands Herald email newsletter contains Action Alerts on important issues, reports and updates on major Highlands Council discussions and decisions, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) activities, upcoming events and various odds and ends.

To subscribe send an email request. ANJEC appreciates any suggestions you might have to make the Herald more useful. Contact Dave Peifer with your ideas.

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The New Jersey Highlands News

The NJ Highlands News is a round-up of news articles on topics relating to the Highlands. Emailed six times a week, this electronic news "clipping service" delivers news on the region and other farther-reaching stories or opinion pieces relevant to the NJ Highlands. The service is funded in part through a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to ANJEC. For a free subscription, email a request.

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The Highlands Coalition

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition, established in 1988, is made up of more than 60 member organizations — small and large, local, regional, statewide and national — all working together to protect, enhance and restore the New Jersey Highlands.

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition offers a limited number of $1,000 to $5,000 grants to grassroots organizations working on projects located within the New Jersey Highlands or associated with protecting New Jersey Highlands resources in the Highlands 88 municipalities.

Also established in 1988, the four-state Highlands Coalition seeks to protect and enhance the sustainability of natural and human communities in the Highlands region of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. With more than 150 local, state, regional and national conservation organizations, the Coalition is working at the federal, state and local level to protect and connect the critical treasures of the Highlands, and to ensure smart and sustainable growth in the region.

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