Organizations in the four-state Highlands region, the PA Highlands Coalition, Appalachian Mountain Club, and partners worked together to submit FY21 federal appropriations requests on behalf of the federal Highlands program, a program of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Earlier this month, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees wrapped up the federal appropriations request process for fiscal year 2021, which runs from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021. During this process, Congress faced mounting concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus and ever-evolving responsibilities related to response as the White House released a National Emergency Declaration on March 13th, 2020. Despite this, the appropriations request process continued as planned, and Highlands organizations submitted their written testimony.
Forest Land protected by the Highlands Conservation Act, Fishkill Ridge in NY.
The organization sign on letter requests appropriations at the full level in fiscal year 2021 for the federal Highlands program, which is authorized to provide $10M annually for the acquisition of priority, ecologically-significant tracts of land in the Highlands region.
The undersigned organizations write to respectfully request a strong funding commitment for the federal Highlands program, at the level of $10 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Codified by the bipartisan Highlands Conservation Act (P.L. No. 108-421), the program is authorized at $10 million per year to support a land acquisition grant program administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and full funding at $10 million will ensure continued success for the program.
The Highlands Conservation Act has protected 8,780 acres of land in the federally-designated region which includes areas of PA, NJ, NY, and CT since its passage in 2004. Since 2007, the Highlands program has received funding, and in recent years, Congress has appropriated the full $10M.
The full letter text is included below and was submitted with signatures from 39 supporting organizations.