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January 30th, 2024
By Scott Park
As more and more folks discover our region’s natural beauty and move to the Upstate, it becomes even more pressing to protect the working lands, forests, and natural areas that make this area so special, as well as the blueways that are critical to local drinking water. After tallying the numbers, we're pleased to announce that in 2023, our nationally-accredited land trust permanently protected 783 additional acres across Upstate South Carolina through conservation easements.
Bishop Branch Pastures, 64.7 acres of agricultural land and wildlife habitat in northwestern Anderson County. Located a few miles from Clemson University and just outside Pendleton, this conservation project permanently protects acres of pastureland, wildlife habitat, and water resources in a rapidly developing region.
Bishop Branch Pastures conservation funders include: the South Carolina Conservation Bank (SCCB), Upstate Land Conservation Fund (ULCF), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under a Section 319 Grant through S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
“Without conservation groups, this valuable land would be lost to urban development,” said Reginald Hall, South Carolina Assistant State Conservationist-Programs NRCS. “Thanks to this conservation partnership, this easement will protect the land into perpetuity.”
Twin Ponds Hunt Club, a 91.7-acre privately owned property in Cherokee County with approximately 70 acres of prime soils (having physical and chemical characteristics as determined by the USDA) and soils of statewide importance. Project funders include the SCCB and ULCF.
"The rolling Piedmont farmland of the Upstate is, perhaps, the most threatened conservation priority in our state,” said Raleigh West, executive director, South Carolina Conservation Bank. "To see progress on saving farms and wildlife habitat here gives me a great sense of relief and hope that we can continue to build momentum for more land protection in this important area.”
In Greenville County,
“If we are to sustain the quality of life for which Greenville County is justifiably known, it is critical that we continue to add to our open spaces not just for recreation but also for the myriad of environmental benefits they provide from clean water to wildlife habitat,” said Carlton Owen, Chair of the Board of the Greenville County Historic and Natural Resources Trust (GCHNRT). “Outright purchases to add to our parks and trails along with voluntary protection of private places like Saluda Dam Acres via a perpetual conservation easement play important roles.”
In Pickens County,
In Spartanburg County,
Additional projects with conservation partners — including the South Carolina Farm Bureau Land Trust, Naturaland Trust, The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina, Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE), and Upper Savannah Land Trust — comprised nearly 3,000 acres. These are projects where Upstate Forever did not take on a new conservation easement, but provided other support integral to the effort’s success.
Our nationally-accredited land trust protects land in partnership with landowners through conservation easements, which are voluntary contracts that allow the landowner to legally restrict certain land uses from occurring on their property, such as the development of residential subdivisions, commercial, or industrial operations, while allowing traditional rural land uses, such as farming, grazing, hunting, and timbering to continue. This agreement is permanent and remains with the land even after it has been sold or willed to heirs.
We have permanently protected more than 35,500 acres through conservation easements and partner efforts across the ten-county Upstate region of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, and Union Counties since our founding in 1998.
Our land trust helps landowners preserve their legacy through voluntary conservation easements. You continue to own the land, and you may realize significant tax benefits. Funding assistance may also be available. For more information, contact us at email@example.com.