2021 In Review

December 21st, 2021

What a year! As we enter the final days of 2021, we're pausing to reflect on the conservation successes this year has brought for Upstate Forever, our partners, and all who are proud to call Upstate South Carolina home.

Thanks to your support, our team built upon the work we’ve been committed to for more than 23 years — protecting our region’s critical lands, safeguarding our waters, and advocating for responsible growth in a rapidly developing region. We hope you’ll celebrate just a few this year’s successes with us below, and join us as we lay the foundation for another successful year to come.


Historic property forever protected
We announced the permament protection of the Spring Park Inn and grounds in Travelers Rest (pictured above). This historic property was donated to the Travelers Rest Historical Society by the late owner, who both worked with UF to place a voluntary conservation easement on the grounds, ensuring this 20-acre tract in the heart of downtown Travelers Rest will remain undeveloped forever. Read more

Greater protection for trees in Greenville
We successfully advocated, along with partners and city leadership, for stronger tree protection and preservation in the City of Greenville. On January 25, Greenville City Council finalized adoption of the revised tree ordinance at second reading. Read more

1,000 feet of Greer stream bank strengthened
We were proud to work with Clemson Extension and the City of Greer to repair a portion of the Brushy Creek stream bank in Century Park. Read more


PFAS advocacy and more news from the Statehouse
The hundreds of public drinking water systems in SC currently have no DHEC-set limits on PFAS, a group of chemical compounds that have been used for decades in manufacturing. But these "forever chemicals" never break down and even low exposure to some PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer, infertility, liver damage, and developmental effects in children. We urged legislators to support a Joint Resolution setting PFAS limits. Read more

The reality of Black land loss
In honor of Black History Month, we explored the steep decline in land ownership — particularly agricultural land ownership — that has impacted Black families across the country and here in the Upstate over the past century. Read more

Greenville City Council adopts new comp plan
On February 22, Greenville City Council adopted GVL2040, a new comprehensive plan to guide the growth of the city over the next two decades. More than two years in development, GVL2040 weaves together an integrated strategy to expand affordable housing and mobility options, while preserving open space and tree canopy and welcoming new businesses and residents to the City of Greenville. Land Policy Manager Sherry Barrett broke down next steps for the plan adoption and implementation. Read more

Erasing the Redline
We moderated “Erasing the Redline: How Communities of Color are Disproportionately Exposed to Pollution and How to Fix It,” a virtual panel discussion about the adverse effects that pollution has on communities of color, and how to provide sustainable solutions for those communities. Watch the recording


More advocacy in Columbia
We urged UF supporters to contact their legislators about several important bills, including the Trails Tax Credit bill and Solar HOA bill. Read more

Waterfalls and wildflowers
We celebrated the start of spring by sharing 5 great spots off the beaten path to see waterfalls and wildflowers across the Upstate. Save this list for next spring


Virtual Cleanup Challenge
In celebration of Earth Month, we challenged UF supporters to join a month-long virtual community cleanup. Dozens of you stepped up, cleaned up, and shared your photos with us on social media! You made a difference by helping to beautify the Upstate and keep debris out of our water sources. View photos

Plan Spartanburg Q&A
Sherry Barrett interviewed City Manager Chris Story about “Plan Spartanburg,” the City of Spartanburg's comprehensive plan update process. Read more

Celebration of an iconic protected property
We were joined by the Grant family, South Carolina Conservation Bank, and others to celebrate the expanded protection of Grant Meadow in Pickens County (pictured below). Nestled at the base of Table Rock and hugging Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11, this property's iconic viewshed is forever protected from development thanks to conservation-minded landowners. Read more


The end of legislative session, and a new beginning
May marked the end of the 2021 legislative session and — after 13 years on the UF team — we bid adieu to former Energy & State Policy Director Shelley Robbins. In her last Legislative Update, Shelley shared where key bills landed at the end of the session, and handed the reins to new State Policy Director Megan Chase. Read more, and read Megan's 2021 Legislative Wrap Up here

Special edition Upstate Advocate arrives
Each year, we publish two issues of our print newsletter, the Upstate Advocate. The Spring/Summer 2021 edition was a special celebration of our 2021 ForeverGreen award honorees in place of Upstate Forever's annual luncheon. View the newsletter here, and learn more about the 2021 award recipients: Judy Cromwell | Drew Lanham | Southern Environmental Law Center | Ginny Stroud | Sustaining WayDave Hargett


Eat fresh, eat local
To celebrate farm-fresh produce and support local agriculture, we compiled a roundup of farmers markets across Upstate South Carolina. View the list


Funding for the Historic and Natural Resources Trust
After many phone calls were made, emails written, social media posts shared and more, we celebrated a huge win following the July 20 Greenville County Council meeting: The Historic & Natural Resources Trust was funded at $2M over the next two years! This allows Greenville County to leverage other state and federal dollars to help meet demands for increased access to outdoor recreation, greenspace equity, and quality of life as Greenville grows. Read more


600+ acres protected in Abbeville
In August, we were delighted to announce the protection of two properties in Abbeville County totaling 664 acres: Morrow Creek Timbers is a nearly 430-acre property comprising hardwood forests, 30 acres of wetlands, and a 6-acre pond. MROS Preserve is approximately 239 acres of pine and hardwood forest and frontage on Gill Creek, a tributary of the Savannah River. Read more


300 acres protected in Greenville County
We protected 300 acres in northern Greenville County in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT), pictured above. Although not currently open to the public for outdoor recreation, future public access is planned to help meet growing demand for natural areas and expanded park access along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Read more

Milestone achieved: 1,000 acres protected this summer
In addition to 664 acres in Abbeville County and 300 acres in Greenville, our Land Conservation team protected a unique 42-acre property in Oconee County — bringing the total acreage protected this summer to more than 1,000. The location and unique properties of this land provide suitable habitat for the propagation and enhancement of the rare Oconee bell. Read more

Hawk watch at Caesars Head State Park
Ranger Tim Lee hosted members of UF's Wyche Society for a fun and fascinating hawk watch at Caesars Head State Park. View photos


Volunteers help out at Conestee Nature Preserve
More than 30 volunteers spent a morning at Conestee Nature Preserve removing invasive plant species like Chinese privet and mulching young trees planted by TreesUpstate. View photos

Natural gas pipeline opposition
Together with citizens groups and fellow environmental organizations, we announced UF's opposition to the natural gas pipeline proposed again by Piedmont Natural Gas (PNG) that would run from Taylors to Travelers Rest in Northern Greenville County. Read more

Improving habitat for grassland birds
Upstate Forever, Clemson University, and Conestee Nature Preserve received a grant from The Cornell Lab and Land Trust Alliance's Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative to study, determine & share best management practices to restore and improve grassland bird habitats. After thorough research by wildlife biology students at Clemson, we published a guide featuring key recommendations. Download the guide here


Honoring the Cherokee tradition of land stewardship
A reverent and symbiotic relationship with nature was historically — and continues to be today — a cornerstone of Native American cultures, including the Cherokee. In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, we honored the Cherokee tradition of land stewardship and shared several local plants and their traditional uses by the Cherokee.

Pipeline route selected
In early November, PNG announced the selected route for the natural gas pipeline from Taylors to Travelers Rest. We remain concerned about the selected route and lack of demonstrated need for the project. Read more

Ag Zoning District unanimously approved
We were proud to support the citizen-led effort to establish an Agricultural Preservation Zoning District to protect farmlands in rural Greenville County. We were thrilled to see the Ag Zoning District approved in a unanimous vote, providing Greenville Co. citizens an important and voluntary tool for preserving the county's remaining farmlands. Read more

Restore the Chattooga River Gorge
Together with American Rivers, Chattooga Conservancy, American Whitewater, Naturaland Trust, and the Georgia Canoeing Association, we issued an action alert seeking your help in restoring the Chattooga Gorge. Read more

Multi-use trail unveiled on protected property
Sassafras Trail, a 2.3-mile hiking and mountain biking loop, opened at Paris Mountain State Park earlier this year. The trail travels across a new addition to the State Park (pictured above), a 160-acre property purchased by Friends of Paris Mountain State Park in 2015 and protected through a conservation easement by Upstate Forever in 2018. Read more

The Fall/Winter issue of the Upstate Advocate arrives
This latest issue celebrates the native plant and animal species that make life here richer, healthier, and more colorful — in addition to sharing the latest news and updates from our team. View the newsletter


ForeverGreen awards luncheon set to return
After a hiatus due to Covid-19, we are excited to once again host our ForeverGreen Annual Awards Luncheon celebrating several incredible individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to conservation in the Upstate. Save the date for Monday, February 14 at 11:30 am at the Embassy Suites on Verdae Boulevard. We hope to see you there, and will continue to monitor local Covid-19 data and may adjust plans for the event as necessary. Purchase tickets here

What a year — and it isn't over yet! In fact, we have several additional protected properties scheduled to close and our team continues working toward a better, greener future for the Upstate. We'll see you in 2022! 


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