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

New Jersey

Most people don’t think of scenic forested ridges, rocky cliffs, tumbling trout streams and hundreds of lakes, ponds and reservoirs when they think of New Jersey. But New Jersey’s Highlands are where the pavement ends and nature begins.

The seven Highlands counties–Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon and Somerset–contain wild places: a broad diversity of forests, wetlands and grasslands; federally threatened and endangered wildlife and plants; historic structures and archaeological heritage sites; and miles of rugged trails, including both the Appalachian Trail and the Highlands Millennium Trail.

Over half of New Jersey’s residents–more than four million people–rely on the Highlands drinking water. The NJ Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act was passed in 2004, dividing the 840,000-acre region into a “Preservation Area” with strict NJDEP regulations and mandatory Regional Master Plan conformance, and a “Planning Area” with voluntary Plan compliance. The region is further divided into the following: Protection Zone, Conservation Zone, Existing Community Zone, Lake Community Subzone, Conservation Environmentally Constrained Subzone, Existing Community Environmentally Constrained Subzone.

Suburban sprawl remains the greatest threat to the Highlands’ drinking water supply, forests, farms, wildlife habitat, and historic, recreational and scenic resources.

Key Facts