Just beyond the eastern seaboard where large cities and suburbs merge into the nation’s most densely populated region, over three million acres of forested ridges, fertile farmland, streams, lakes and reservoirs form the regional landscape called the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. The four-state Highlands Region reaches from from northwestern Connecticut across New York’s Lower Hudson Valley, through northern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, and on to the Maryland state line. The Highlands Region represents a modern-day frontier between the Appalachian Mountains and the urban lands along the Atlantic Coast. In 2004, the 108th Congress passed the Highlands Conservation Act in part to “recognize the importance of the water, forest, agricultural, wildlife, recreational, and cultural resources of the Highlands region, and the national significance of the Highlands Region to the United States.”
The Highlands provide essential goods and resources that ensure the survival and economic property of the 25 million people who live within an hour’s drive of the four state region. As the backyard for the nearby urban complex, this region supplies communities with clean drinking water, protects critical wildlife habitat, provides impressive recreation and tourism opportunities and distinctive places to live. The Highlands Region hosts more than 14 million recreation visits annually, more than Yellowstone National Park. Careful protection, management, and use of the natural resources located in this nationally significant region are essential for the long-term sustainability of both nature and the cities in which we live.