GOSHEN — United States Senator Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, is holding a Highlands Reauthorization Roundtable in Goshen June 28.
The meeting will be held at 12:30 p.m. at 65 Beach Hill Road, at the site of the state’s largest and most recent conservation project to leverage funding from the federal Highlands Conservation Act, according to a statement.
The Housatonic Valley Association is cosponsoring this event and to highlight the conservation impact that these significant federal funds have made, and will continue to make possible in our region, according to the statement.
Murphy is sponsoring S. 753, initiated to reauthorize the Highlands Conservation Act, which since 2007 has helped protect 3,646 acres of woodlands, fields, wetlands and important wildlife and recreational land within the 29 town Highlands region in Northwest Connecticut, according to the HVA. Highlands funds help the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection buy land or purchase conservation easements and require a 1:1 match of other public and private resources.
In Northwest Connecticut, the land trust community has successfully protected 15 important properties by combining DEEP Open Space Watershed and Land Acquisition awards with Highlands easements, according to the HVA.
According to the statement, Goshen recently concluded a Highlands easement transaction that permanently protects more than 100 acres of municipal land, and the state DEEP has also made important purchases of land and easements as well.
Beech Hill, a 627- acre property with forest, field and wetland habitats, was conserved in April with 50 percent of the purchase price provided by the Highlands Conservation Act. It is now part of Goshen’s Wildlife Management Area.
The reauthorization bills in the Senate and House include language that would double the maximum appropriation for the HCA from $10 to $20 million, and President Biden’s proposed budget includes as $15 million request for the program. It also makes provision for the four Highlands states — Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — to petition to change the Highlands boundary to include additional communities and makes other important administrative changes. These funds still require a 50 percent matching contribution, which may include state, municipal or private funds in various combinations, according to the statement.
Founded in 1941, HVA is dedicated to conserving a healthy and climate resilient environment across the entire Housatonic River Watershed The watershed includes about 2,000 square miles of land stretching from western Massachusetts through western Connecticut and eastern New York to Long Island Sound. With a strong network of partner organizations and backed by science, HVA’s work includes Follow the Forest aimed at securing a connected woodland habitat corridor across the watershed; restore clean, free-flowing streams and rivers; help residents protect backyard habitats and waters; and promote environmentally sound public policies. HVA’s offices are in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut; Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Wassaic, New York. For more information, visit hvatoday.org.