The Steward: Introducing Our New Digital Landowner Newsletter

September 7th, 2023
By Lauren Ulich

We're delighted to introduce the new digital edition of The Steward!

The Steward, Upstate Forever's formerly printed and biannually produced newsletter for landowners, is moving to a new format — you can expect to receive electronic updates directly in your email inbox on a quarterly basis. Content will be geared towards the conservation-minded landowner and will include land management techniques, funding opportunities, educational events and information about ongoing restoration projects.

In this first digital edition, we invite you to get to know our new Land Stewardship Coordinator, learn about an important riparian buffer restoration project, and mark your calendar for upcoming events. We look forward to sharing more stories, case studies and recommendations with you, our readers!


Lauren Ulich
Stewardship & Land Restoration Manager

Ericka L. Berg
Land Stewardship Coordinator

Meet our new Land Stewardship Coordinator, Ericka Berg

Ericka grew up in Polk County, just over the border in North Carolina, where her family has deep roots. She attended Berea College in Kentucky, got a bachelor’s in biology, and made her way back to WNC to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Conserving Carolina, a neighboring land trust in Hendersonville.

Six years and many roles at Conserving Carolina later, she left to serve as Operations Manager for Parks and Grounds with the City of Greenville, SC. She is excited to return to land trust work as Land Stewardship Coordinator for Upstate Forever. 

In her position, she works with landowners of conservation easements, responding to reserved rights requests, issues, property transfers, or other questions they may have. She also performs annual monitoring, reporting, and helps with anything stewardship related.

In her free time, she serves as the Board President for Friends of DuPont Forest, where she has been volunteering since 2018 and on the board since 2019. For fun, you can find her somewhere outdoors with her fiancé Jay and their dogs, Reiner and Luna. She enjoys being bad at many activities, including gardening, running, mountain biking, backpacking, hiking, whitewater kayaking (in her ducky), and playing disc golf. 

Please join us in giving Ericka a warm welcome!

Land management project update: Rocky River Nature Park

As you might have heard, Upstate Forever has expanded its conservation easement stewardship program to include a land management initiative. This program aims to provide assistance to landowners who wish to address threats to the conservation values of their property such as erosion or invasive species.

In a previous issue of The Steward print newsletter, we highlighted our pilot project targeting the reclamation of a property in Oconee County from the highly aggressive kudzu vine. As is the case for most invasive species removal projects, kudzu eradication takes several years of well-timed and thorough management. Even then, we will continue to monitor the property for new infestations or re-growth. For now, we celebrated the first year of successful treatment in August and look forward to another year of effective management!

Over the past year, we have been busy connecting with landowners, identifying funding sources, and exploring new opportunities for collaboration — in fact, our newest land management project is well underway. Building upon existing partnerships with Trees Upstate and Clemson University and with critical funding awarded by the Anderson County Watershed Protection Council, we have initiated a riparian buffer enhancement project at the Rocky River Nature Park in Anderson.

Two key elements of the project include buffer habitat improvement and community outreach. Habitat restoration specialists have already cleared over 7 acres of Chinese privet and thorny olive from the floodplain forest adjacent to the Rocky River and Cox Creek. Later this year, volunteers will assist in the planting of native wildflowers, sedges and trees to enhance the buffer habitat — find details on that upcoming volunteer opportunity below! More native plants means more food and better habitat for the 168 species of passerine and migratory birds found at the park. Planted vegetation will also benefit water quality by capturing non-point sources of pollution and sedimentation, a regionally historic problem within this watershed. Throughout the project, the Rocky River Conservancy and Trees Upstate will offer opportunities for the community to learn more about the health of their watershed, how to conduct water quality analyses and encourage participation in buffer plantings.

We look forward to providing updates on this project and developments with the land management program. To learn more about Upstate Forever’s Land Management initiative, reach out to Lauren Ulich at

Mark your calendar for these upcoming fall events

Wednesday, November 15 from 2:00 pm- 4:00 pm
Volunteer Workday at Rocky River Nature Park

We need your help to plant native wildflowers and grasses at the Rocky River Nature Park in Anderson. This volunteer event is part of a series of events aimed at improving habitat quality for the abundance of wildlife that the park supports.

Click here to register for this fun volunteer workday!

Thursday, November 16 at 8:00 am
South Carolina Forestry Commission Shortleaf Pine Conference

South Carolina Forestry Commission is working to increase awareness about the importance of this species with a conference devoted to the shortleaf. They hope to reach local landowner associations, consultants, local conservation easement groups, active landowners interested in timber management, and public organizations promoting shortleaf pine. Topics to be discussed include stand diversity, conservation, wildlife, and recreation.

Anyone interested in attending the conference can contact Tim Adams at or (803) 896-8802.

Before you go: SC beekeeper alert!

Clemson Apiculture has confirmed sightings in South Carolina of two exotic hornets that are known to harm honey bee colonies: The yellow-legged hornet and northern giant hornet.

Beekeepers are urged to learn how to distinguish these two pests from native species and report suspected sightings to your county extension office. Photos or specimens should be submitted to confirm identification. Learn more here

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