In his continuing effort to protect the drinking water supply for 11 million Americans in the northeast United States, Rodney today introduced legislation to extend the bipartisan federal Highlands Conservation Act (HCA).
Originally signed into law in 2004, the HCA authorized $10 million a year for 10 years for land conservation partnership projects and open space purchases from willing sellers in the four state Highlands region: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. His bill allows the federal government to match municipal, county and state efforts already in place.
"This bill recognizes that the Highlands are a national treasure that must be preserved," Rodney said. "While we have been successful in protecting thousands of acres over the last ten years, our work is far from done. It is essential we continue to work in public-private partnerships and with our local and county officials to save open space in the Highlands. While remaining mindful of private property rights, we must protect this critical watershed."
The $14.25 million in funding for the HCA, to date, has protected over 3,726 acres in the Highlands Region. Rodney's legislation would extend the HCA for another 10 years. The program is currently set to expire in October of 2014.
The Highlands Region supplies drinking water for more than 11 million people, provides habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species and provides recreational opportunities for the millions of people who live within the region.