Monthly Update
Highlands Council Update
Great news about October’s Highlands Council meeting.  We had been preparing for it for a long time.  This was the meeting at which the Council proposed to both (1) approve the amendment to the Regional Master Plan, which would have added the process by which the RMP may be amended, and (2) approve the MPRR, which will guide amendment of the Regional Master Plan over at least the next six years, based on which issues, and how/why.  We have concerns about both #1 and (particularly) #2.  While there is a lot of good work on Council staff’s part that has gone into both, we didn't believe either were ready for "prime time", that they were being rushed to complete a complex process prematurely because time is running out, and strategically felt it didn't make sense to tie the hands of any new Council members/leadership who would be joining the Highlands Council appointed by a new administration.
With help from many members, and taking advantage of lots of generously shared expertise, we (1) attended and commented at all six public hearings (I think the overwhelming number of commenters were our friends), and (2) prepared 45 pages of in-depth comments on the draft MPRR (you can find them on the front page of our website HERE.  We then reviewed the Council's responses to comments and worked closely with members to prepare to address those responses at the October Council meeting.  We did our homework, and were ready.  The surprising result?  When we got to the portion of the agenda during which actions on these issues were to be taken, Chairman Rilee, with no advance notice, moved them off the agenda to the December 7 Highlands Council meeting without comment!   Speculation?  We think Council leadership did not have enough votes to approve the agenda items and did not want it to become apparent that that was the case.   We are well prepared for the December meeting.  Bill Kibler, Chair of our Policy Committee, said to me at the start of the meeting that seven+ years of work had gone into this meeting – now we will have to be patient and wait till December!
The next Council meetings are as scheduled below:

Regular Council Meeting
December 6, 2017  |  4 pm
 100 North Road, Chester, NJ
Highlands Council Info
NJHC Welcomes Our First Academic Members!
Seton Hall University and Rutgers University
New Jersey needs a group of the best and brightest to protect its environment… and the New Jersey Highlands Coalition is forming a relationship with Seton Hall University and the Newark Environmental Sustainability Institute of Rutgers to do just that.  As of October 2017, the Coalition has formally expanded its member base to include Colleges and Universities of New Jersey.  This membership is a huge step for the Coalition.  Seton Hall University and Newark Environmental Sustainability Institute of Rutgers will be the first academic members to join a Coalition until now made up of grassroots and community groups, governmental bodies, outdoor recreation groups, professionals and local businesses, all of whom depend on Highlands water. 

On October 25th the formal membership of Seton Hall to the New Jersey Highlands Coalition’s group of over 100 member organizations was celebrated during the New Jersey Environmental Lobby’s Annual Meeting.  NJEL is also a New Jersey Highlands Coalition member. These partnerships help highlight and promote discussion and learning about the critical resource and policy issues of the Highlands and New Jersey.  It creates a pathway to introduce these issues to environmental programs and classrooms participated in by thousands of New Jersey students and academics.  By encouraging students to use their training to study New Jersey environmental issues and policies, future environmental and community leaders will more effectively promote preservation of the Highlands.
“Learning about the hydrology, geology and biodiversity of the Highlands region has opened the students’ eyes and hearts to the beauty and abundance of New Jersey’s delicate ecosystems.  We are grateful to have the NJ Highlands Coalition participate on our campus in Earth Week events and in Environmental Studies classes, keeping us informed on critical local issues and leading us to a brighter future by preserving the beautiful forests and water sources of the NJ Highlands,” said  Wanda Knapik, Assistant Professor Environmental Studies, Seton Hall University

The Coalitions’ recent Highlands programs have been welcomed into the academic space, including at a Highlands Conference presented by the Coalition at Montclair State University, several green fairs and presentations at William Paterson University, MSU, Drew University, and Centenary University, and by teaming up with staff from NJIT to assist Ringwood community groups with sampling and research.

Rutgers University Newark and the Newark Environmental Sustainability Institute are thrilled to be joining the NJ Highlands Coalition in order to foster and contribute to the preservation and advancing research on water resources in the state. It is pivotal to work together to solve the issues of our times and in our state. We hope to be able to contribute with our faculty research and expertise to preserving the Highlands and protecting its vital resources.  Karina V.R. Schäfer, PhD, Ecosystem Ecologist, Rutgers University

The Coalition is seeking to further these important bonds and grow its academic member base to include all of the State’s colleges and universities.  We look forward to working with some of the most brilliant minds in New Jersey, to help protect our beautiful state and all of its natural treasures!

According to Julia Somers, “Working with these enthusiastic young minds and their mentors gives us great opportunities to study critical Highlands resource issues and policies.  We are very excited by these new connections and look forward to strengthening these relationships.”

Fall Events Photo Gallery
From left to right: Boonton's 150th Anniversary, Presenting at Seton Hall University; our newest academic member, Denville farm fair, 2017 Highlands Road Rally
Photos from our 4th Annual Morristown Hopped up Scavenger Pub Crawl.
Photos from our 2017 Annual Meeting ant Green Pond Community Center
Help out the Highlands!

Are you looking for a fun way to get involved with the Highlands Coalition but don't know how?  Well look no further than our volunteer program.  We offer the opportunity for folks to help volunteer at our special events such as pub crawls, road rallies, press events, art shows and more!

This is a great opportunity to get involved in the community while helping a great cause; protecting the beautiful New Jersey Highlands and the source of your drinking water.  This is also an opportunity to have fun and network, while gaining experience in a range of fields from event planning to art and design, and everything in between!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Coalition, or for more information on any of our events or opportunities, please contact:

Lauren Swern 
phone: 973- 588-7190 
The Highlands Rediscovered
Complimentary Screenings

We have been busy showing the NJN film "The Highlands Rediscovered" and we would like to continue sharing this beautiful and informative film. We're happy to work with your organization (or an organization you know) if interested in hosting the New Jersey Highlands Coalition for a free screening of this film, followed by a short Q&A session. Just let us know where and when!
Uphold the Highlands Update

Led by George Stafford, our Uphold the Highlands program, which has garnered well over 100 municipalities’, counties’ and regional and local Environmental Commissions’ support for the Highlands Act and Regional Master Plan, is moving into a new phase.

We hugely appreciate those communities being open minded and taking the time to understand and appreciate our efforts, even if sometimes they asked for a little persuasion! We have not given up on the remaining communities, which are still being pursued actively, albeit more slowly than earlier converts.

Our outreach has now expanded to other efforts seeking local and governmental support. We, of course, will still approach targeted towns outside the Highlands that receive water from the Highlands to approve our Resolution of Support for the Highlands Act. But now, we are working with the Keep It Green Campaign on resolutions advocating continued funding support for Open Space acquisition.  We had also worked with SaveH20NJ on a resolution supporting the release of the long delayed New Jersey Water Supply Plan, which was finished in 2011 but had not been released to the public, informing and supporting local and regional planning decisions. The Water Supply Master Plan has just been released by NJDEP which received public comment until June 30th.  Communities as diverse as Bernardsville, Newark and George Stafford’s home town of Wharton recently signed on to both of these resolutions. Political events both in Washington and here in New Jersey have made the local and regional government/political picture somewhat cloudy, but we continue to meet with officials inside and outside the Highlands in places like Stanhope and Paterson, and to promote the important economic and environmental values of the Highlands.

Schedule a Screening
for the latest news and exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the NJ Highlands Coalition!
​The New Jersey Highlands Coalition

We represent a diverse network of organizations - small and large, local, regional, statewide and national - and individuals with the common goal to protect, enhance and restore the New Jersey Highlands and to preserve the quality and quantity of drinking water both for the 850,000 people in the Highlands as well as the more than 5.4 million people in surrounding areas who depend on Highlands water. For more information visit our website.

Thank you for all of your support! 
508 Main Street | Boonton | New Jersey | 07005