Think of the Highlands as the “backyard” and “backstop” of the Philadelphia–New York–Hartford metroplex. A backyard that spans over three million acres across Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut, the Highlands serves as recreational open space for the metroplex’s burgeoning human population. As backstop, Highlands’ watersheds provide a ready source of high-quality drinking water for over fifteen million people.
The Highlands is the first book to examine the natural and cultural landscape of this four-state region, showing how it’s distinctive and why its conservation is vital. Each chapter is written by a different leading researcher and specialist in that field, and introduces readers to another aspect of the Highlands: its geological foundations, its aquifers and watersheds, its forest ecology, its past iron industry.
In the 1800s, the Highlands were mined, cutover, and then largely abandoned. Given time, the forests regenerated, the land healed, and the waters cleared. Increasingly, however, the Highlands are under assault again—polluted runoff contaminating lakes and streams, invasive species choking out the local flora and fauna, exurban sprawl blighting the rural landscape, and climate change threatening the integrity of its ecosystems.
The Highlands makes a compelling case for land use planning and resource management strategies that could help ensure a sustainable future for the region, strategies that could in turn be applied to other landscapes threatened by urbanization across the country. The Highlands are a valuable resource. And now, so is The Highlands.