Updates from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut Highlands

National Conservation group features the Highlands

September 2nd, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

The Wilderness Society, a national conservation organization, featured the Highlands on their website in a  headline story called: A Tall Drink of Water. The piece highlights recent funds to conserve land in the Pennsylvania Highlands and urges Congress to fully fund the Highlands Conservation Act. The article can be viewed at: http://wilderness.org/content/tall-drink-water.

Highlands Coalition Celebrates FY09 Funds for the Cooks Creek Watershed in PA

August 26th, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

* * * * Media Advisory * * * *

Rep. Patrick Murphy Announces Federal Funding for Cooks Creek Conservation Project
Funding Will Preserve Open Space, Bolster Conservation Efforts for Local Watershed

(Springfield Township, PA) – Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) joined environmental leaders and local elected officials to announce $700,000 in federal funding for the Cooks Creek Watershed conservation project in the Highlands region of Upper Bucks County.

This funding, secured by Congressman Murphy, will help support conservation and land acquisition efforts to ensure that watersheds, forests, farmland and trails in the Pennsylvania Highlands are preserved for generations to come, including keeping drinking water clean and safe for over 15 million people. The Highlands Conservation Act, passed in 2004, recognizes the Highlands as “nationally significant” and authorizes $110 million over 10 years toward lands conservation in the region.

“Protecting areas like the Cooks Creek Watershed preserves our natural resources and improves the quality of life for our families,” said Rep. Murphy. “By being good stewards of this landscape, we ensure that our children and grandchildren will enjoy these resources for years to come.”

“The Appalachian Mountain Club applauds Congressman Murphy’s leadership in securing Highlands Conservation Act funding to help protect this watershed for the millions of residents who benefit from it,” said Kristen Sykes, Mid-Atlantic Project Manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club and Legislative Chair for the Highlands Coalition. “Our staff and members are strong advocates for the preservation of natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Pennsylvania Highlands, and federal, state and local funding is essential to the Cooks Creek Watershed conservation project.”

The 1999 Bucks County Natural Areas Inventory rates the Highlands area Priority 1, and Heritage Conservancy includes Cooks Creek Watershed as part of its Lasting Landscapes Program. The Highlands region is 3.5 million acres of forest, farmland, and rugged hills extending from south-central PA, through NJ and NY into northwestern CT. These eastern-most ridges of the Appalachian Mountains form a greenbelt for the Philadelphia-New York City-Hartford metropolitan area. The Highlands are home to more than 250 endangered, threatened, and rare species. The Pennsylvania Highlands are 1.9 million acres extending 13 counties from Northampton to Adams.

# # #

For Immediate Release, August 26, 2009
Contact: Kate Hansen, (202) 225-4276

PA Highlands Trail Celebration - Save the Date - May 16, 2009

March 9th, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

YOU’RE INVITED! Sat. May 16th at 12pm - “Welcome to PA” Highlands Trail Celebration. The Appalachian Mountain Club, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the Borough of Riegelsville are holding a celebration in honor of the Highlands Trail reaching the NJ/PA border in Riegelsville, PA (Bucks County). Join in this exciting celebration by welcoming the Highlands Trail into PA via the Roebling Bridge over the Delaware River. Refreshments, local hikes, bike rides and paddling trips will all be a part of the festivities.  AMC is looking for volunteers to help on the day of the event if interested please contact AMC’s Mid-Atlantic Recreation Planner, Jennifer Heisey at 610-868-6906 or jheisey@outdoors.org.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition Releases New Report

March 9th, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

Last week the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, which the Highlands Coalition is a member of, released a new report: “Conserving America’s Landscapes”.

 

The new report highlights the need for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy Programs, while exploring the importance of land conservation to current issues including public health, clean water, forest fire prevention, tourism and community economics, and fisheries and wildlife adaptation to climate change.

 

The report can be downloaded by visiting The Trust for Public Lands website at: http://www.tpl.org/content_documents/lwcf_report_webfinal.pdf 

 

FY10 Highlands Conservation Act and Forest Legacy Fact Sheets

February 17th, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

FY10 Highlands Conservation Act and Forest Legacy Project Fact Sheets are now available. For more information please contact Kristen Sykes at ksykes@outdoors.org

Pennsylvania

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fy10_hca_texter-pa

New Jersey

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New York

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Connecticut

fy10_fl_tulmeadowfarm-ct

fy10_fl_wolfhill-ct

fy10_hca_ethelwalker-ct

fy10_hca_naugatuck-ct

fy10_hca_scoville-ct

New wildlife brochure

January 9th, 2009 Posted in | No Comments »

The Coalition recently completed a wildlife brochure, which can be found on our publications page. Kudos to Dawn Serra, Jennifer Grossman and our friends at Trout Unlimited for their help in doing the brochure. Also, many thanks to the Philadelphia Zoo for providing the grant that made it possible.

Local open space funding measures passed in the Highlands

November 6th, 2008 Posted in New Jersey, Pennsylvania | No Comments »

The 11/4 election saw the passage of several open space funding measures in the Highlands of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A summary is below. Throughout the country, 88 measures passed, for a total of $8,410,616,140 in conservation funding! For more information, go to TPL’s LandVote database at: www.conservationalmanac.org/landvote/cgi-bin/register.cgi

PENNSYLVANIA:
1) Adams County approved a $10,000,000 Bond for the preservation of farmland, open space, habitat, and watersheds. It passed by 75% approval.
2) Upper Saucon Township approved a $24,000,000, 0.25 percent earned income tax increase for open space and recreational lands. It passed by 50% approval.

NEW JERSEY:
1) Hunterdon County approved a $152,000,000, 3 cents per $100 property tax extension for the preservation of open space, parks, and farmland. It passed by 76% approval.
2) Oakland Borough approved a $1,270,000 property tax, 5-year, extension of 1 cent per $100 open space tax. It passed by 70% approval.

Local and State Groups/Municipalities Oppose PSE&G’S Mega Power Line Expansion

October 29th, 2008 Posted in New Jersey | No Comments »

Byram CARES • Environment New Jersey • Delaware Riverkeeper Network
New Jersey Environmental Federation • New Jersey Sierra Club
New Jersey Highlands Coalition • Stop The Lines

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2008
Contact:Dena Mottola Jaborska, Environment New Jersey, (609) 540-6609

LOCAL AND STATE GROUPS OPPOSE PSE&G’S MEGA POWER LINE EXPANSION

Montville, NJ – A coalition of state and local environmental groups today called on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) to reject a request for approval by PSE&G that would massively expand its North Jersey Susquehanna–Roseland transmission line – a proposal which would more than triple the line’s current size and capacity.

“This power line is the Line in the Sand for us. We will fight to stop this line because it is bad for the environment, climate change, pollution, open spaces and consumers – it is just bad,” stated Jeff Tittel, Director of the Sierra Club’s NJ Chapter.

PSE&G plans to charge its New Jersey ratepayers $650 million to pay for the line expansion, but the groups gathered want the NJBPU to instead require that PSE&G invest the same amount on a region-wide energy efficiency and renewable energy program to shore up reliability.

“No one disputes that North Jersey’s electricity highways are congested and need relief to avoid price spikes and blackouts in the future. But New Jersey’s energy future should not be tied to dirty coal plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, when home grown renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide the solution,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, Executive Director, Environment New Jersey.

An analysis by Environment New Jersey finds that the proposed line expansion has the potential to move at least 3,000 MW of energy from coal states into or through New Jersey. That is enough electricity to power 800,000 or more homes. Growth in the state’s electric demand does not warrant such a large increase in transmission capacity. Even conservative projections from the grid operator, PJM, show peak demand in PSE&G’s entire service area will rise by only 2000 MW by 2020.

Environment New Jersey estimates that a $650 million investment by PSE&G could buy at least 2000 MW of energy savings through energy efficiency measures, reducing all of the expected growth in PSE&G customers’ peak demand. Beyond this step to address reliability in North Jersey through energy efficiency, Governor Corzine has set a strategy to cut energy usage statewide and to build more clean energy generation capacity.

Last Thursday, Governor Corzine announced plans to build a substantial amount of renewable energy generation – more than 6,000 MW – from wind, solar, biomass and emerging renewable technologies by 2020, and to reduce the state’s overall energy use by 20% by 2020, ensuring no increase in energy demand between now and 2020.

“PSE&G’s proposed line expansion is in direct conflict with the state of New Jersey’s plan to put New Jersey on the path to a more sustainable energy future,” stated David Pringle, Campaign Director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation.  “The BPU and Governor Corzine have made major commitments to clean energy solutions, and their decision on PSE&G’s request to expand this line will be a test of those commitments.”

Faced with local opposition this past summer, PSE&G bypassed local approvals and on October 14, initiated discussions with the NJBPU seeking State approval for the line expansion. Under state law, if the NJBPU approves the line, PSE&G would not need approvals from local authorities, although most of the municipalities through which the lines run would like to play a role in the decision.

“We cannot support or oppose this project without answers to our concerns,” stated Byram Township councilman Scott Olson, speaking on behalf of six municipalities who have formed a coalition to address this proposal. “We do not feel that PSE&G has shown a proven need for this expansion, or that all other options have been exhausted and this is the only viable alternative to address their needs. And they have yet to prove the potential for health effects are lessened or that the economic impact to our municipalities and our residents will be addressed.”

Specifically, PSE&G’s proposal is to add a 500-kilovolt line to the existing 230-kilovolt line on its portion of the Susquehanna–Roseland corridor. A Pennsylvania utility, PP&L, is seeking a similar expansion in that state, sending electricity from the Delaware Water Gap, across three New Jersey counties to Roseland in Essex County, New Jersey. From there, electricity would be converted to several 230 kilovolt lines and delivered to New York and other parts of New Jersey.

As part of the NJBPU review process, the groups say the agency must consider all the costs of line expansion, including loss of hundreds of acres of public parkland and other publicly preserved lands, damage to forests and wildlife habitat and devaluation of homes adjacent to the proposed expansion.

“The high-voltage power line proposed by PSE&G will have an enormous impact on the Highlands Region.  200-foot high towers will destroy its beauty and character, and cause considerable environmental degradation during the construction process,” said Julia M. Somers, Executive Director of the Highlands Coalition.  “PSE&G has tried to exempt this project from the Highlands Act, which is almost as inappropriate as their claim that this expansion is needed.  It’s not, given the State’s repeated commitment to renewable energy and conservation.”

The expansion would require a minimum of 80 diversions of publicly preserved Green Acres land in the Highlands region. It would cross at least 15 wetlands, seven areas with known state and federally protected animal or plant species, 10 Natural Heritage Priority Areas, several known pre-historic (National Register listed or eligible) resources and four heavily used visitor areas in the Delaware National Recreation Area alone, including campsites, a picnic area and river launch.

“As local residents, we are concerned the line expansion will harm our health, devalue our property, and despoil the environment. PSE&G’s plan to deal with an estimated 1.5% increase in peak demand with a more than 300% increase in transmission capacity is unnecessary, irresponsible, and profit motivated.   Peak energy demand is only 50 hours out of the year, and should be addressed through conservation and other available alternatives,” said David Slaperud of Stop The Lines, a grassroots group formed to address concerns in towns throughout North Jersey.

Concerns Raised by the Proposed Expansion of the New Jersey portion of the Susquehanna – Roseland Transmission Line:

Open Space, Park and Recreation Lands Concerns:
•    May Divert Green Acres Land Preserved By Taxpayers: The proposed expansion of the Susquehanna-Roseland line (S-R line) would run through parkland and open space preserved with grants from New Jersey’s Green Acres program. In many cases, county and municipal taxes also contributed to local land acquisitions. These critical open space and recreation lands were paid for in part by New Jersey taxpayers with the expectation that these lands would be permanently protected.  If the deed of easement on these lands does not allow the addition of taller electric poles and more wires, the lands will be subject to the Green Acres diversion rules.
•    Impacts to Local Parklands: Construction of the S-R line expansion would take place on some Morris County parkland, including Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Montville and Kinnelon, as well as the southern edge of the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson.
•    Federal Parkland Also Threatened: In testimony at the July 31, 2008 hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding energy transmission, Craig Obey, Vice President for Government Affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) voiced the Association’s concerns about the impact the S-R line could have on the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Mr. Obey stated the path taken by this line would cross: at least 15 wetlands; 7 areas with known state and federally-listed protected animal and plant species; 10 Natural Heritage Priority Areas; several known pre-historic and historic (National Register-listed or eligible) resources; 4 heavily used visitor use areas including campsites, a picnic area, and river launch
•    Scenic Value Diminished: There would be a significantly negative impact on scenic resources in the area if the proposed expansion were allowed to go forward. The more than doubling of the height of existing towers and additional wires would alter the landscape forever. Many recreational lands would lose scenic value, and this could threaten New Jersey’s eco-tourism economy.

Natural Resources Concerns
•    Damage to Forests and Habitat: Roads cut for construction would cause forest and habitat fragmentation, and the loss of vegetation would have a negative impact on water supply. Disturbance to steep slopes, wetlands and migratory birds would also occur.

Health issues Related to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s) concerns:
•    Possible Carcinogen: While PSE&G continues to state that results of studies are “inconclusive” and that “there is no causal relation between EMF’s and childhood leukemia or cancer,” both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and World Health Organization (WHO) classify EMF’s as a possible human carcinogen. Recent studies seem to indicate some relationship between living near transmission lines and health problems, especially cancer.  Currently, we are aware of at least one “cancer-cluster” that exists along the lines in question.

PSE&G claims they will use “reverse phasing” to minimize magnetic fields. This is a complex and unproven technology, far less effective when the lines are carrying different loads, as is the case here. At best, it is an admission to the fact that they are attempting to “minimize” EMF’s – for which there is no state or federal standard – despite their claim that they pose no health hazard.

Property rights concerns:
•    There are numerous potential property rights issues with existing easements. Some easements exist with a width of less than the 150’ that is being proposed for the project by PSE&G, and specify tower heights and/or line voltage. Many of them were written in the late 1920’s, and may need renegotiation or could force the use of eminent domain for acquisition of additional property. Are 150-foot easements appropriate through residential neighborhoods, considering the over 190-foot height of the towers being proposed? Who will be watching out for the interest of these property owners during this process?
•    Economics are an important concern as well. The increased line voltage, visual impact of more than doubled tower height, and greater vegetative clearing will negatively affect property values of homes currently adjoining the lines.  The increased tower height will also raise the lines and towers into view above the mature forest canopy in many densely developed residential areas. This new visual impact will decrease the value of many homes currently not impacted by these lines. Every 100 homes with a decreased assessment of just $10,000 each will create a $1-million ratable deficit for your municipality.

Highlands Regional Concerns:
•    The proposed Susquehanna-Roseland line would require significant environmental impacts, both in siting pole locations and during the construction process.  The current right of way crosses through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Appalachian Trail, Kittatinny Valley State Park, Rockaway River Wildlife Management Areas, Wildcat Ridge Natural Area, the New Jersey Highlands Preservation and Planning Areas, as well as numerous state, county and local open space lands.  The scenic integrity of ridgelines and the integrity of wetlands, riparian areas, core forests, critical habitat and Special Environment Zones, designated as no build areas by the Highlands Council, will be significantly impacted The proposed line is inconsistent with the drinking water protection standards, scenic resource standards and critical wildlife standards set forth by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council in the Highlands Regional Master Plan.

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_____________________________________________________________________________

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2008
Contacts:
Deborah Nielson, Mayor, Montville Township, 973.331.3304
Scott Olson, Councilman, Byram Township, 201.232.2700 (mobile)
Joseph Pannullo, Mayor, East Hanover Township, 973.428.3000

Coalition of concerned municipalities questions PSE&G on electric transmission line expansion project.

Andover, Byram, East Hanover, Fredon, Montville and Parsippany-Troy Hills Townships seek BPU intervention on major expansion of capacity.

Montville Township, NJ – Representatives of a newly formed coalition of municipalities today joined with state and local environmental groups in questioning the need, process and procedures for a massive expansion of power line capacity along PSE&G’s Susquehanna – Roseland transmission.

On August 5, 2008, PSE&G announced the choice of  “Route B” for this proposed expansion project. At that time, PSE&G promised additional information and answers to public questions would be provided when they appeared before municipal planning boards for approvals. Faced now with growing resident opposition, PSE&G has chosen to bypass local approvals and on October 14, 2008 initiated an application with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) seeking direct state approval for the project. By law, if NJBPU approves the proposal, PSE&G would no longer need approvals from local authorities, many of whom desire to give concerned residents input, and play a role in the decision making process.

“Our municipalities have been frustrated with PSE&G, and their inability to present clear and concise information to us regarding this project,” stated Deborah Nielson, Mayor of Montville Township. “We are asking the NJ BPU to require that PSE&G return to the municipalities for approvals, and to address the concerns of our residents through proper hearings and public input.” Montville has been at the forefront of activity regarding the project, passing a resolution of non-support on September 23, 2008 based on lack of information from PSE&G.

Today’s press briefing was held in conjunction with seven state and local environmental groups, some whose members are residents of the fourteen towns along the 45-mile route.  “We believe that the points raised by these groups bear further consideration before any decision is made on this proposal. We cannot support or oppose this project without answers to our concerns,” stated Scott Olson, a Byram Township councilman. “We do not feel that PSE&G has shown a proven need for this expansion, or that all other options have been exhausted and this is the only viable alternative to address their needs. And they have yet to prove the potential for health effects are lessened or that the economic impact to our municipalities and our residents will be addressed.”

PSE&G’s proposal for the Susquehanna–Roseland project is to add a 500-kv line to the existing 230-kv line, with 190-foot or taller towers on the New Jersey portion of the transmission line replacing the current 82-foot towers. A Pennsylvania utility, PP&L, seeks approval for a similar expansion in that state. After crossing the Delaware Water Gap, the lines carry electricity through Warren, Sussex and Morris counties to Roseland in Essex County. From a sub-station at the terminus in Roseland, electricity would then be converted to several 230-kv lines and delivered to New York and other parts of New Jersey.

At an earlier meeting in East Hanover, a PSE&G representative acknowledged that this 230-kv/500-kv configuration does not currently exist within their system.

“Our residents – especially those with children – are concerned about the potential health hazards from increased EMF’s,” stated Joseph Pannullo, Mayor of East Hanover Township. “This line crosses over schoolyards, parks and playgrounds in our municipalities. While PSE&G claims the health effects of EMF’s are ‘inconclusive,’ that is not very reassuring to our residents. We do not want our children to be guinea pigs for a new and untested line configuration.”

By choosing to bypass municipal approvals and take the application directly to NJBPU for review, the municipalities believe that discussion of local concerns, including loss of public parkland and other publicly preserved lands, damage to forests and wildlife habitat, health and safety issues and devaluation of homes on or adjacent to the proposed line expansion is being sidestepped. The coalition’s six municipalities – Andover Township, Byram Township, East Hanover Township, Fredon Township, Montville Township and Parsippany-Troy Hills Township – are looking to engage the remaining municipalities along the route, as well as county and state officials, in their effort to protect residents from the harmful affects this could have on their communities.

For additional information on this “Coalition of Concerned Municipalities,” contact Byram Township councilman Scott Olson at 973.726.8867, or by email at solson@byramtwp.org.

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Annual Hudson River Watershed Alliance Conference

October 28th, 2008 Posted in New York | No Comments »

MEETING THE CLIMATE CHALLENGE: TAKING ACTION IN THE HUDSON VALLEY

A CONFERENCE FOR MUNICIPAL LEADERS, BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS AND COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2008
MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE
CONFERENCE HOUSE
NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK

Presented by Mohonk Consultations and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, this conference will explore the numberswiki.com

state-of-the-art regional and local climate change science, the social implications of climate change in the Hudson Valley, and current federal, state and regional climate change policy. Experts on our afternoon Panel Discussion will demonstrate effective responses to climate change and provide tools for local communities to adapt to climate change.

PA Highlands Trail Network update

October 1st, 2008 Posted in Pennsylvania | No Comments »

*WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN JULY, AUGUST, and SEPTEMBER?

1 - Planning for the “Welcome to PA Highlands” Celebration: Initially we thought we would have the celebration this fall but timing wise and wanting to plan a wonderful celebration spring 2009 will work out for the better. Also I presented to the Borough of Riegelsville in August. They were very supportive of the celebration and will be co-hosting the event with AMC and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) in the spring.

*NEXT STEPS: Planning for the celebration - Holding first celebration planning meeting sometime in Oct./Nov. (if you would like to be involved please contact me).

2 - Outreach: Bucks County Public Presentations in the PA Highlands are planned to happen this fall hopefully in November. On Wed. Sept. 24 (tomorrow) Bucks County Planning Commission, DCNR, NPS - RTCA, and AMC are meeting to discuss how to move forward the PA Highlands Trail Network (PHTN) project in Bucks County by holding presentations to the public about the PHTN project. The goal is to hold public awareness presentations on the PA Highlands and the PA Highlands Trail Network project in preparation for the spring celebration of welcoming the Highlands Trail into PA in Riegelsville, PA. We want to get things rolling in terms of getting support for the project and potentially have community members form and be a part of a PHTN Bucks County Committee that will aid in determining a route, etc.

REMINDER: *Bucks County was prioritized as the county to focus on first among the 13 counties in the PA Highlands by the PHTN steering committee. York and Lancaster County will be the next priority. We will want to hold public presentations in these counties in Spring/Summer/Fall ‘09 depending on the outcomes and progress of Bucks County).

*STAY TUNED! - Update to follow on the outcomes of Wed. Sept. 24th meeting on planning for public presentations on the PA Highlands Trail Network and the PA Highlands in Upper Bucks County. This will also include next steps to move forward the public presentations and who and how to folks involved.

3 - Continuing to collect trails data (gpsing): Hoping to complete the field work in November and clean the data in December. We have primarily been focusing on county and local trails that have non-existing GIS data. We will be sharing all the data and have been or will be reaching out to each trail manager for each trail we are gpsing. Please contact me if you are curious on what trails data we are collecting in the PA Highlands.

*WHAT WILL THE TRAILS GIS DATA BE USED FOR? AMC has been collecting the GIS data on the trails in the PA Highlands to create an overall Recreational map of the PA Highlands (will be available in winter/spring 2009)and for individual trail maps for the Hike the Highlands cards (partnering with the Wildlands Conservancy) that will be available to the public free in early 2009. Also to share the data with others.

4 - Comprehensive Report on the PHTN route and overall trails in the PA Highlands: Still working on getting the rough draft more complete to allow for a comment period for you all. STAY TUNED - I’m targeting to send it out for comments in early October. We would love all your input and feedback on the report.

5 - Hike the Highlands Cards: This is a series of cards highlighting an individual trail/park in the PA Highlands that includes a description of the trail/park, managing trail organization with contact information, trail map, a beautiful photo, and information on the PA Highlands. The cards are small and light-weight. The goal is to increase the awareness of the PA Highlands and most importantly get people outside enjoying and appreciating the PA Highlands. Wildlands Conservancy and AMC are working on this project together. This year we will highlight 24 trails/parks in the PA Highlands. Please contact me for further details.
**The cards will be free to the public in spring 2009.

PLEASE contact me if you have questions about the project or would like more details on any of the items I discussed above. I can definitely elaborate.

I’ll be in touch with updates on when the Bucks County Public Presentations will occur, approaches that will be used, and asking for your help and support at the public meetings.

Hope to see and talk with many of you at the PA Greenways & Trails Summit! Happy Early Fall!

Thanks,
Jennifer

Jennifer Heisey
Appalachian Mountain Club
Mid-Atlantic Recreation Planner

Moving Forward in New Jersey’s Highlands

September 29th, 2008 Posted in New Jersey | No Comments »

The New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council has finally completed its enormous and controversial task with the adoption of the Highlands Regional Master Plan, a guide to preservation and planning in the 860,000 acre Highlands Region. The Plan will be critically important for protecting Highlands’ supplies of clean and plentiful drinking water to over 5.4 million New Jersey residents and businesses.

The Highlands Council can now begin implementation of the Regional Master Plan. And with the Governor’s intervention, by signing of Executive Order #114, the Council must also take the steps needed to coordinate with other state agencies, including the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH). These two agencies must resolve the conflicting claims between these them about the amount of land available for development in the Highlands.

In recognition of this conflict, Governor Corzine’s Executive Order, directing COAH to work with the Highlands Council to adjust all affordable housing requirements in conforming municipalities throughout the Region, was a necessary measure. It is clear, common sense that in order to promote sustainable growth and development, including affordable housing, protection of our water supply must be figured into the equation. The members of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition welcome this balanced and reasonable recognition of true natural resource and capacity-based planning.

The Governor’s directive provides Planning Area municipalities with an unanticipated incentive to conform to the Regional Master Plan, as conformance will provide an opportunity to adjust COAH numbers to reflect the constraints necessary to protect our water supplies. The Governor, in the Order, directed the Council and COAH to resolve their differences within 60 days. We commend the Governor for finally seeing what lay ahead and taking action. It has since been reported by the media that leadership at COAH is dragging its feet in response to the Executive Order. An agreement between the Highlands Council and COAH would go a long way towards easing the concerns and diminishing the confusion often expressed by the Highlands municipalities who are burdened by these agencies’ conflicting mandates.

However, the Governor’s actions can only be considered an interim measure. Without long-term re-authorization of the Garden State Preservation Trust, the state’s widely popular Farmland, Open Space, and Historic Preservation programs will be out of money before Highlands’s preservation efforts can even begin. The Governor has pledged many times since his election to re-authorize the Garden State Preservation Trust with a dedicated funding source. He has yet to make good on that. Until he does, we in the environmental community remain wary of the Governor’s stated commitment to preserving open space. The Governor must follow through on his promise. The GSPT is the lynchpin upon which the Highlands Regional Master Plan can succeed, as it will provide compensation for Highlands landowners and ensure that matching grants to counties, municipalities and non-profits for preservation can continue.

In addition, new appointments to the Highlands Council will also be the responsibility of this administration. Eight Council members have terms on the Council that expire before the end of 2008. One of those seats has remained unfilled for almost two years. The Highlands Act requires a balance among its fifteen members; seven are to be public seats and eight seats are to be held by elected officials. However, ten of the fifteen Council members are elected officials, or were so at the time of their appointment to the Council. The Governor has the opportunity to correct this imbalance by filling expiring terms appropriately and appointing individuals who will be strong advocates for protecting the region’s critical drinking water supplies, as well as its unique environmental, agricultural and historic resources.

The State’s 5.4 million people who rely on clean and plentiful drinking water must continue to demand the strongest resource protections for the Highlands region, with a dedicated and long-term funding source for the Garden State Preservation Trust, with new and reasonable appointments to the Highlands Council to achieve the balance of public and elected officials as mandated by the Highlands Act and finally, with a memorandum of understanding between the Highlands Council and COAH reflecting the resource constraints of the Region. We will be there every step of the way.

Julia M. Somers, Executive Director, New Jersey Highlands Coalition

Sterling Forest Conservation Day

September 23rd, 2008 Posted in | No Comments »

Title: Sterling Forest Conservation Day
Location: Sterling Forest State Park: Lautenberg Visitors Center at 116 Old Forge Road in Tuxedo, NY
Description: Sterling Forest State Park Celebrates 10 Years with Activities, Fun and Cake. For more information, call Tom Thompson, 201 848 1080.
Start Time: 09:00
Date: 2008-09-28
End Time: 16:00

Affordable + Green: Efficient Housing for Today and Tomorrow

September 23rd, 2008 Posted in | No Comments »

Title: Affordable + Green: Efficient Housing for Today and Tomorrow
Location: Central Valley Inn, Central Valley, NY
Description: 4th Annual Regional Conference on Energy and Green Buildings. Networking Reception from 5 – 6:30 pm, sponsored by the US Green Building Council NY Upstate Chapter, Hudson Valley Branch. For more detailed information on the program, sponsorship opportunities, and other details please contact Simon Gruber at 845-534-5622 or sgruber100@verizon.net
Start Time: 09:00
Date: 2008-11-13
End Time: 17:00

ANJEC Annual Congress

September 18th, 2008 Posted in , New Jersey | No Comments »

Title: ANJEC Annual Congress
Location: The Conference Center at Mercer, West Windsor, NJ
Description: Featured Speaker: David Gershon, author of Low Carbon Diet and
NJDEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson

Workshop Sessions
- Open Space, Ratables and Municipal Fiscal Health
- Wastewater Plans, the Rules Have changed
- What’s New in Recycling
- Opening Minds, Changing Behaviors
- Transportation and Transit Villages
- Greening New Jersey’s Economy
- New Affordable Housing (COAH) Rules & the Environment
- New Jersey’s Energy Innovators
- Cool Communities Practicum with David Gershon
For more information and to register, visit http://www.anjec.org/html/workshops.htm#congress

Start Time: 08:30
Date: 2008-10-03
End Time: 16:00

Eastern Forests Partnership Annual Meeting

September 17th, 2008 Posted in | No Comments »

Title: Eastern Forests Partnership Annual Meeting
Location: Washington, DC
Start Date: 2008-09-30
End Date: 2008-10-01