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

New York

New York’s Highlands sweep across Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties. The mountains–some over 1,000 feet high–create awe-inspiring views, perhaps the best known at the point where the Hudson River cuts through their steep slopes. The region’s geology has helped inspire many great parks: Harrisman, Bear Mountain, Fahnestock and Sterling Forest. This large swath of unfragmented forest and the 6,000-acre Great Swamp together protect the water supply for millions of people in New York City and northern New Jersey.

Though thousands of acres of New York’s Highlands are preserved as parkland, many important areas remain unprotected. Orange, Putnam and Dutchess are among the fastest growing counties in New York State. Land comprising and adjacent to critical treasures such as Torne Valley and parts of Sterling Forest, which buffer the Ramapo River, plus more than 30,000 acres of New York City’s Croton watershed lands in Putman and Westchester counties are privately owned and face intense development pressure. Residential, commercial and industrial development in these areas will be a detriment to future water supplies and could forever alter the unique qualities–so lovingly depicted by the Hudson River School painters more than 100 years ago–that give the New York Highlands their value and symbolism.

Key Facts

  • 630,000 acres
  • 5 counties
  • 28 municipalities
  • 14 Highlands Coalition Critical Treasures
  • state-listed endangered, threatened and rare animal species…
  • 137 endangered, imperiled and rare plant species