DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL
PROTECTION RE-ADOPTS HIGHLANDS PROTECTION RULES
(06/65) TRENTON - Department of Environmental
Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced re-adoption
of rules that implement enhanced environmental standards in the
designated Preservation Area of the Highlands region.
“The department remains firmly committed to the goals of
the landmark Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, which
not only protects exceptional forest lands, wetlands and wildlife
habitats, but safeguards water supplies for more than 5 million
people,’’ Commissioner Jackson said.
The rules will be published in the New Jersey Register on Dec.
4 and will become effective upon publication. The rules implement
the Highlands Act, signed into law on Aug. 10, 2004.
The rules protect the Highlands’ surface waters through a
300-foot development buffer; protect ground water through septic
density standards; set impervious surface restrictions; limit development
on steep slopes; set protections for upland forests and historic
resources; and establish protections for rare, threatened and endangered
The new rules clarify various aspects of interim rules adopted
in May 2005. Changes include:
- Language that clarifies implementation of the rules through
the Highlands Regional Master Plan to be adopted by the Highlands
- Improved field methodologies in making determinations of an
area as a forest, which is a key consideration in determining
an area’s septic density;
- Two new general permit programs that allow nonprofit groups,
municipalities and others to create habitat and use certain stream
bank stabilization methods to protect or improve water quality;
- Provisions ensuring that, should the rules require landowners
to offer land for conservation purposes, nonprofit groups using
money from the Garden State Preservation Trust must negotiate
the purchase price based on land values as they were prior to
implementation of the Highlands Act.
The Highlands is a 1,250-square-mile area in the northwestern part
of the state noted for its rugged hills, lush forests and scenic
lakes. It stretches from Phillipsburg in the southwest to Ringwood
in the northeast, and lies within portions of seven counties: Hunterdon,
Somerset, Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic and Bergen.
Surface and ground sources in the Highlands supply water to more
than 290 municipalities in 16 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
“The Highlands region is a critical source of drinking water
for millions of people, providing some or all of the drinking water
to approximately 64 percent of New Jersey’s residents,’’
Commissioner Jackson said.
DEP's Highlands rules apply to the Preservation Area; they do not
apply to the designated Planning Area.
For more information and a full version of the rules, go to: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/highlands/