HVA is the Connecticut co-chair of the Highlands Coalition, a four-state alliance of nearly 200 nonprofit, municipal, state and federal organizations working collaboratively to protect vitally important natural resources in the Highlands of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
Under the Highlands Conservation Act, Congress is authorized to appropriate up to $10 million a year over 10 years towards the protection of key lands in the four-state Highlands region, covering the 3.5 million acres under federal recognition. But before property can qualify for funding, it must be identified as an area of high conservation priority by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). See list and map of Critical Treasures of Connecticut.
The USFS is beginning its study to identify the high-priority areas and it is now reviewing the input obtained at a series of listening sessions by the study team consisting of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension. HVA and the Regional Plan Association helped organize them. The final USFS study report will be a strong tool for land conservationists, including the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, as we seek funding from local, state and federal sources.
The Connecticut State Committee of the Highlands Coalition includes representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), local land trusts and watershed groups, and national conservation organizations. HVA Executive Director Lynn Werner and Tim Northrop, Connecticut State Director for the Trust for Public Land serve as co-chairs of the Committee. Four members of the CT State Committee are also members of the regional Highlands Coalition Board. Ms. Werner said, "The federal funds provided through this legislation will leverage much needed state and municipal conservation dollars and will greatly increase the chances of protecting the most vulnerable natural areas in the Connecticut Highlands."
To learn more about the Highlands Coalition and it's current Highlands Campaign, please visit www.highlandscampaign.org/highlands-coalition.