Hudson Hills & Highlands
The Hudson Hills and Highlands bioregion includes parts of five Hudson Valley counties: Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Orange. It is defined by the hills and highlands of the Lower Hudson River Watershed between Yonkers and Beacon. Nearly 80% of the area lies east of the Hudson River in Westchester and Putnam counties. The 936-square-mile Hudson Hills and Highlands is home for 785,000 people and provides habitats for a rich diversity of plants and animals. The nationally-acclaimed Hudson River Estuary and majestic Hudson Highlands form the region’s backbone. Its natural bounty is surprising considering that New York City and its 12 million residents are located less than 45 miles to the south.
The Hudson Hills and Highlands is experiencing significant loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation caused by sprawling overdevelopment, rapid spread of non-native species, pollution of ground and surface water, and other factors. Each of the 31 towns and many of the villages that comprise the Hudson Hills and Highlands has a core of dedicated town-appointed environmental leaders committed to addressing important issues in their communities, and in recent years, those interested in protecting natural resources in the Hudson Valley have created a number of effective organizations and projects. However, a region-wide learning alliance among Hudson Hills and Highlands town and village-appointed environmental volunteers from Conservation Advisory Committees/Boards and Open Space Committees is lacking. Great benefit would derive from improved environmental civic leaders dialogue, shared learning, regional planning, and policy development. Regional issues such as habitat protection, biotic corridor design, overabundant species, ground water management, and watershed protection require coordinated study and action.
Teatown’s Lake Reservation’s regional conservation efforts are focused on the Hudson Hills and Highlands. Teatown believes that protection of nature – biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystems -- throughout this important bioregion is achievable only with the involvement of town officials, environmental leaders, and informed citizens. In particular, local environmental committee persons will increasingly have a key role in our communities, as we move toward more sustainable living practices that safeguard the many essential benefits provided to us by nature.
The formation of the Environmental Leaders Learning Alliance provides town and village-appointed environmental leaders with essential networking opportunities, exchange of knowledge and resources, and the opportunity to learn from each others’ experiences that Teatown believes will positively influence future environmental decisions in the Hudson Hills and Highlands.