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Public Statements

Highlands Conservation Act

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HIGHLANDS CONSERVATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - November 17, 2004)

Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 1964) to assist the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania in conserving priority lands and natural resources in the Highlands region, and for other purposes.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Nevada and all members of the House Committee on Resources for their support and guidance on this bill, particularly the gentleman from California (Chairman Pombo) who has been with me every step of the way over the last couple of years, and this has been a work in progress for over 4 years.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte), chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, for his support of this legislation, as well as the staffs of both committees and the many cosponsors from the four mentioned States for their hard work and, particularly, the gentleman from California (Mr. Radanovich), the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, as well.

A special kudos to my colleague from New Jersey (Mr. Saxton) who is a member of the Committee on Resources, for his particular guidance and support and his ability to articulate with his committee colleagues the case for this bill.

The leadership of all of these individuals has been extremely invaluable.

The Highlands Conservation Act represents a major Federal commitment to preserve more open space and protect water supplies in the northeastern part of these United States. While remaining mindful of property rights, this bill compliments ongoing State, local and private partnerships to preserve open space. Federal support and the passage of this Act this afternoon presents a unique substantive and symbolic opportunity for our government once again to express its commitment to preserving our natural resources.

Mr. Speaker, the Highlands, as was said earlier, is one of last open space treasures in the most densely populated area of the United States. In New Jersey alone, my home State, it includes more than a million acres of forest, farms, streams, wetlands, lakes, reservoirs and historic sites.

Mr. Speaker, the Highlands Conservation Act is a national priority, as has been mentioned, and a major imperative. Passage of this Act will give the people of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania more of the tools they need to preserve and protect these remarkable resources and assets.

I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo), the chairman, and the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. Gibbons) for their support and the work of their committee and staff and urge adoption of the bill.

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