NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - An associate professor at Rutgers with four decades of experience in wildlife conservation was one of three people nominated by Gov. Phil Muprhy to an environmental watchdog group.

Daniel Van Abs, an Associate Professor of Practice for Water, Society and the Environment, was nominated for the Highland's Council on Tuesday.

Wynnie -Fred Victor Hinds of Newark and William S. Kibler of Califon were also nominated and will also be subject to confirmation by the state senate.

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“Ensuring clean drinking water, economic vitality, and a thriving ecosystem in the New Jersey Highlands is of existential importance to the millions of residents that rely on the health of that region,”  Murphy said in a statement. “The responsibility of protecting the Highlands is one our administration does not take lightly and the promise of a fully operational Highlands Council is one that I am proud to fulfill."

The Highlands Council is a 15-member appointed body tasked with implementation of the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act of 2004.

The Highlands Council is advised in its actions by its Executive Director, who serves as the chief administrative officer of the Council. The Executive Director is assisted by and oversees the operations of a professional staff of planners, science experts, geographic information specialists, and administrative personnel, based in Chester.  

“These three excellent candidates will add tremendous knowledge and support to the Council’s important work,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “We thank the Governor for making such thoughtful, stellar appointment recommendations, and look forward to their being approved quickly by the State Senate. It’s gratifying to know such great candidates are prepared to work on behalf of their home State. I am sure they will be welcomed by the Council.”

Van Abs has extensive experience in the public and non-profit sector professional and management experience developing and implementing highly recognized programs in watershed protection, water supply management, water quality pollution control, open space planning, land use management and wastewater management. 

Many projects of the projects he has worked on have involved wide-ranging cooperative efforts with government, non-profit, for-profit and public interests, with funding from foundations and government.

He is a frequent public speaker on water and watershed policy, planning and management issues.