Monthly Update
NJ Drought Warning

Photo of Wanaque Reservoir taken by Elliott Ruga on 11/1/2016

14 New Jersey counties  are currently under the first drought warning since 2001, which was declared by the NJDEP on Friday October 21st.  The department held a public hearing at Milburn Free Public Library on Thursday, October 20th where members of the public and the environmental community shared their recommendations for the DEP to move the drought watch to a drought warning.  Many of the people who commented also called for the state to release their water supply master plan which would be helpful in properly managing the little amount of water we currently have.  

As a community we need to stand together and take measures to conserve water throughout our day, so that we can responsibly use this precious natural resource that we depend on to survive.

Here are some quick and easy tips to save water that will also save you money.  
Map provided by NJDEP,
2016 Annual Meeting
Held at the beautiful Villa Milagro Vineyards

Continuing the tradition of convening the Annual Meeting each year at a different venue to highlight the Highlands’ unique history, diverse and becoming landscapes, and abundant natural resources, this year we struck the right note at Villa Milagro Vineyards, in the historic, agricultural hamlet of Finesville, on cliffs overlooking the confluence of the Musconetcong River and the Delaware River. 

Along with the business of welcoming the slate of new trustees, thanking those cycling off the Board, and recognizing our most awesome volunteers and elected officials who helped champion our mission, we were treated to a tasting of local Highlands wines and cheeses.

In addition, Margaret Nordstrom continued our annual tradition of inviting the Highlands Council Executive Director to reflect on the Council’s past year and to talk about the challenges and opportunities for the upcoming year.  The Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya K. van Rossum gave a presentation on “For the Generations,” an initiative to promote amendments to state constitutions to guarantee citizens’ rights to clean air and water and for the protection of natural and cultural resources.
Policy Update
Water Quality Management Planning rules have been adopted despite strident opposition from the environmental community, including our detailed comment letter. Following suit, NJDEP will also fully adopt the newly proposed Flood Hazard Area rules, allowing more development in flood prone areas. Our comments to DEP on these rule amendments can be read here. The Legislature did not follow through with its intention of invalidating the rule through concurrent resolution. The Assembly had followed the procedure laid out in the NJ Constitution that allows the Legislature to invalidate an agency rule after a finding that the rule or provision is in violation of legislative intent. But the Senate negotiated an Administrative Order with the DEP Commissioner that lessens some of the failings of the rule, but does  not go far enough.

We have been given assurance by our legislative champions that they will move forward with a concurrent resolution on DEP's changes to the septic density provision of the Highlands Preservation Area rules. The Assembly has already introduced legislation that finds DEP violated legislative intent in the rule's decrease of the minimum lot sizes required for development on a septic system in the Preservation Area. The Senate Environment Committee will hold a hearing on Nov. 3 at 10:30am on the validity of the scientific basis upon which DEP justifies the rule change. It is our position that DEP misapplied data, by sampling existing nitrate concentrations in ground water in both the Planning and Preservation Areas, and in areas already developed, to determine the baseline level of nitrates for the Preservation Area. Our comments to NJDEP can be read here.
Highlands Council

 Next Scheduled MeetingDecember 1st, 2016  |  4 pm
 100 North Road, Chester, NJ
The Highlands Council met on Thursday, October 20th and concluded their Fiscal Impact Assessment, which looked at different economic and demographic factors and how they were affected pre- and post-Highlands Act (2004) and how they change within different regions surrounding the Highlands.  The Council also voted on and passed the Support For A Water User Fee As A Dedicated Source of Funding For Land Conservation resolution.  This resolution is a recommendation to the legislature to charge a water purveyor fee that would sunset after 10 years and provide (in the words of the Council) "just compensation" for lost developmental opportunities to property owners in the Preservation Area that were caused by the Act.

The next Highlands Council HDC bank board meeting is scheduled for Nov 3rd.
Highlands Council Info
Highlands Advocates Program

Are you involved in your community’s environmental issues? Do you attend regular meetings on issues in your municipality? Would it be helpful to have the support and coordination of the NJ Highlands Coalition for your efforts?  If so the Highlands Advocates program is a perfect fit for you.  We are looking for active environmental volunteers to join our network of Highlands Advocates!

Over the past several years, the NJ Highlands Coalition has been working with and seeking out people active in their communities within the 88 Highlands municipalities. Our goal is to partner with at least one individual in all 88 municipalities enabling us to have a strong presence across the Highlands through our team of Highlands Advocates.  

Benefits of becoming an advocate:

  • Access to webinars/seminars on environmental law and policy, science and current threats to the Highlands
  • Be part of a network of other prominent environmental community members and fellow advocates
  • Gain support of the NJ Highlands Coalition for your advocacy efforts in your Highlands' municipality

How to become an advocate:

Contact Our Outreach & Education Director, Sean Gilson at 973-588-7190 or email

3rd Annual
Fall Tour of the Highlands Road Rally

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition, the Raritan Valley Sports Car Club, and the North Jersey Sports Car Club hosted the 3rd Annual Fall Tour of the Highlands Road Rally on Sunday, October 9th. The Rally was a friendly and fun event challenging teams to maneuver through a prescribed 75 mile route over some of the most beautiful scenery in the New Jersey Highlands. The Rally began and ended at the Pavilion at Schooley's Mountain Park, Washington Twp., NJ.  27 cars signed up, much was learned about the Highlands along the way, and lots of prizes were won and fun enjoyed by the more than 50 participants.  
3rd Annual
Highlands Hopped Up Morristown Pub Crawl
On Saturday October 22nd we held our 3rd Annual Hopped Up Morristown Pub Crawl.  The night kicked off at 6 PM at Sona 13, where crawlers registered and gathered together to enjoy some great food and drink specials.  The next stop on the crawl was Tashmoo Restaurant & Bar, which led to a bunch of great photos for our Instagram contest, and participants took pictures in costumes in front of our "water droplet fun facts" while tagging #hoppedupmorristown.  As the night continued, we made our way to George & Martha’s, finishing up at End of Elm where we awarded our Instagram contest prizes to our top participants.  Overall, the night was a huge success, full of craft beer, fun water facts and a great group of people.  Keep an eye out for our next Hopped Up Highlands Pub Crawl event where you can enjoy great craft beer made with clean Highlands water! 

Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the night: Click Here
NJ Highlands Coalition 2nd Annual Golf Outing

Mark your calendars for our 2nd Annual Golf Outing at Hawk Pointe Golf Club on Thursday, May 11th, 2017.  Join us on the course with your foursome or as a gold, silver or platinum level sponsor!  Learn more about our event and how to become a part of it with our online brochure.  
Uphold the Highlands: Over 100 Resolutions Including Jersey City and Newark!

Uphold the Highlands Campaign Outreach Director, George Stafford, continues to introduce the 'Resolution of Continuing Support for the Goals and Purposes of the 2004 Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act' in communities that depend on water from the Highlands. 

George has been successful in his attempts to recruit municipalities that depend on Highlands water, and help them understand the importance of protecting this essential resource. So far over 100 resolutions in support of the Highlands have been passed, including by two of NJ's largest cities Jersey City and Newark! This is a very positive networking effort. If you have any news or ideas for your community regarding actions such as these inside or outside the Highlands that might aid our efforts, please contact George Stafford at ( 

Even more helpful would be if you will introduce George to any personal political contacts you may have. He has been having great success, but we have a long way to go and we still need your help!
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!
Schedule a Screening
for the latest news and exclusive behind the scenes access to the NJ Highlands Coalition!
​The New Jersey Highlands Coalition

represents 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