The Mid-Atlantic Highlands Action Program is a multi-state partnership run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is the first-ever attempt to coordinate environmental conservation and economic revival in the mid-Appalachian range. The governors of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia recently announced they had signed the charter establishing the partnership, which is mandated by an 2001 act of Congress.
Governor Ed Rendell said the program - similar to the state's Pennsylvania Wilds eco-tourism project in northern-tier counties - will seek to balance the region's portfolio of recreational amenities with various economic interests. "Our challenge," said Rendell, "is to seek common ground and develop policies that will manage the many demands on this land, while preserving the natural beauty and heritage of the Appalachian Mountains."
The states, under EPA's aegis and funded by an initial $2.5 million federal grant, will survey the region's ecologically significant highlands areas and identify pilot projects to facilitate ongoing community conservation efforts and local economic development.