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The Highlands

Critical Resources, Treasured Landscapes

Edited and with an Introduction by Richard G. Lathrop Jr.

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

Illustrations and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

Always intrigued by the blank spaces on any map, I was first attracted to the Highlands by their wild character, as an antidote to suburban life in the sprawling Philadelphia–New York City–Hartford megalopolis. Repeated forays into the Highlands revealed a much richer, more complex, and more interesting landscape than I had first imagined. ...

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pp. 1-6

Thirty miles north of New York City, the broad Hudson River constricts into a narrow gorge overshadowed by rugged rocky ridges rising up to nearly fourteen hundred feet. In 1609, Henry Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon were the first Europeans to visit and describe this dramatic landscape, known today as the Highlands (fig. I.1). ...

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Part I. Geological Setting

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pp. 7-8

One of the most aesthetically appealing aspects of the Highlands is the rocks: big, bold, substantial rocks—from the occasional sheer rock cliff with a skirt of tumbled talus at its base to the stray glacial “erratic” boulder the size of a small house. ...

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Chapter 1: Bedrock Geology of the Highlands

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pp. 9-25

The rocks of the Highlands physiographic province represent some of the most striking and fascinating geologic relationships ever assembled in one place. Great variations in the geology of an area such as this are the products of global-scale movements of the earth’s surface, which is broken into what are known as tectonic plates. ...

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Chapter 2: Glaciation and Landscape History

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pp. 26-43

The landforms of the Highlands owe much to the tectonic events described in chapter 1 but are of much more recent origin. The ancient gneisses that formed in the roots of the Grenville mountain range more than a billion years ago and the younger sedimentary rocks that were faulted and folded along with the gneisses ...

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Chapter 3: Major Soils of the Highlands

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pp. 44-56

The term “soil” has somewhat different connotations within various disciplines. Soil is generally considered to be the uppermost portion of the earth’s crust. The gardener or agriculturalist generally considers soil to be the six- to twelve-inch layer of earth in which plants grow. ...

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Part II. Water and Watersheds

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pp. 57-58

Clean and abundant water is a resource that we often take for granted in the humid northeastern United States. Turn on the tap, and as long as drinkable water flows out, that is the end of story for many of us. However, as the two chapters in this next section make abundantly clear, the backstory behind water is much more complex and much more interesting. ...

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Chapter 4: Groundwater and Surface Water Hydrology

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pp. 59-83

Highlands water has long been recognized as a critical resource necessary to meet long-term public water-supply needs. As early as the nineteenth century, prior to the construction of major reservoirs, water-supply reports began documenting the region’s potential as an important source of water for the developing urban centers ...

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Chapter 5: Water Supply Resources

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pp. 84-104

The Highlands region is an area of both prolific and limited water-supply resources. Surface water supplies are quite abundant, primarily from reservoirs created through the damming of Highlands valleys to capture high stream flows. These supplies are predominantly used in areas outside the Highlands ...

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Part III. Biodiversity

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pp. 105-106

Forests are central to the character of the Highlands landscape. As highlighted throughout this section, natural ecosystems are dynamic, continually responding to varying environmental conditions or discrete disturbances; change is a constant. ...

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Chapter 6: Forest History of the Highlands

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pp. 107-131

European settlers who began exploring the Highlands more than three hundred years ago found seemingly limitless forests, ripe for exploitation. Over the next century and a half, they cleared forests to make farms and harvested trees to provide fuel and building materials. ...

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Chapter 7: Forest Ecology

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pp. 132-157

Forests are earth’s dominant vegetation type and are intimately intertwined with our lives. They produce much of the oxygen we breathe, supply much of the water we drink, provide material to build the houses in which we live, and are central to many facets of human endeavor. ...

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Chapter 8: Wetlands of the Highlands Region

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pp. 158-181

Wetlands are ecosystems that combine the properties of both terrestrial and aquatic environments, but they also have unique and special characteristics. Like terrestrial environments, wetlands have soils and plants, but like aquatic environments, they also have water present much of the time. ...

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Chapter 9: An Overview of the Vascular Plants of the Highlands and the Threats to Plant Biodiversity

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pp. 182-199

As a young boy growing up in southern New Jersey in the 1970s (Millville, Cumberland County), author Gerry Moore would occasionally make trips to the Highlands region of northern New Jersey with friends of his family who were amateur naturalists and photographers. ...

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Chapter 10: Wildlife of the Highlands

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pp. 200-228

The four-state Highlands region is characterized by a diverse array of natural and man-made communities, from rocky outcrops to boggy seeps, from large lakes to small seasonal pools, and from extensive forests and wetlands to agricultural fields. These various communities and their plant life in turn support abundant and diverse animal life ...

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Part IV. People and the Land

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pp. 229-230

When considering the lush forested vistas of the present-day Highlands, it is easy to overlook this region’s previous incarnation as a center of early American industry. Chapter 11 lays out the history of the iron industry and the Highlands’ role in helping to forge America’s rise as an industrial giant. ...

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Chapter 11: Ironworking in the Highlands

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pp. 231-258

When the coming of the Iron Age in the Old World supplanted the use of bronze for implements and weapons, the search for iron ores and the means to reduce them to metallic iron became of paramount importance. In the European encounter with eastern North America, iron ore was one of the valued resources. ...

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Chapter 12: Agriculture and Urban Development Patterns in the Highlands

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pp. 259-273

Prior to European settlement, Native American tribal groups, most notably the Lenni Lenape, inhabited the Highlands (Kraft 2001). Compared with the dramatic changes that followed, the Native Americans had a light touch upon the land. With the advent of European colonization, the Highlands underwent a major transformation ...

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Chapter 13: Open Space and Recreation in the Highlands

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pp. 274-293

Situated near the populous Philadelphia–New York–Hartford metropolitan region, the Highlands have long been treasured as a recreational outlet and source of spiritual renewal by the citizens of the region. The preservation of acreage in the Highlands was motivated by the desire to protect open space, preserve scenic beauty, and establish new recreational opportunities. ...

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Chapter 14: Land-Use Planning and Policy in the Highlands

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pp. 294-315

The use of land—public or private, large or small—is a product of three factors: the larger regional or metropolitan economy, which creates the market for existing or new uses; decisions made by the individual property owner, who can be driven by factors both economic and personal; and public policy, ...

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Chapter 15: Future Vision of the Highlands

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pp. 316-330

How does one describe the landscape of the Highlands? It depends on what time period you are considering: A mid-eighteenth-century frontier of largely unbroken forest. A mid-nineteenth-century industrial landscape dotted with miners’ villages and ironworks belching smoke 24/7 amidst a scrubby cutover forest littered with the mine tailings. ...


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pp. 331-334

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Notes on Contributors

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pp. 335-342

Daniel D. Chazin is a life member of the New York–New Jersey Trail Conference and currently serves as a board member and as secretary, as well as chair of the Publications Committee. He has edited a number of publications on hiking in the New York–New Jersey area, ...


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pp. 343-366

E-ISBN-13: 9780813552088
E-ISBN-10: 0813552087
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813551333

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 36 color (including 9 maps) and 51 b/w photographs (including 11 maps)
Publication Year: 2011