The Upstate Update: December 2023

December 20th, 2023

The Upstate Update is a digital newsletter curated and shared each month that offers insights into Upstate Forever's recent work, highlights upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, and shares other conservation and advocacy news.

We post the Upstate Update here on the Upstate Forever blog each month. If you would like to receive the Upstate Update directly in your email inbox, please sign up for the mailing list.

Why do you support Upstate Forever?

2023 has been a landmark year for Upstate Forever. Not only have we celebrated UF's 25th anniversary, but our dedicated staff has made significant accomplishments toward our ever-important goals to protect Upstate SC's critical lands, abundant waters, and unique character.

We could not do this work without the generosity of folks like you. Your support and passion enable our team to show up each day and work for a better Upstate for the generations to come. So we want to know...What does our work mean to you?

"I'm concerned about our shrinking natural habitat, uncontrolled growth, clean water and our environment in general. I appreciate the work done by Upstate Forever and want to play a small part to help this organization continue its good work." – Nancy W., Spartanburg

"There is no other organization in the Upstate that works so efficiently to foster dialogue between different constituencies, and to balance development and conservation forces." - Drew and Sofia K., Greenville

"This organization has protected and defended everything I love about this place, creating a model for the whole country to follow." – Ellen K., Pickens

"Having lived in the upstate for over 31 years, we have observed the incredible growth the area has experienced. We need the locally focused work on conservation, sustainability, and smart growth that UF does so well." - Julia and William H., Greer

Click here to join Nancy, Drew, Sofia, Ellen, Julia, and William in supporting Upstate Forever, and email us and share your "why."

Also in this month's newsletter:

  • Clemson's sustainability efforts
    Clemson Mayor Robert Halfacre and Urban and Park Land Management Director Tony Tidwell spoke with UF about how they’re putting sustainability at the forefront of the City of Clemson’s conservation efforts. Read the full Q&A on the UF blog to learn about exciting sustainability developments in the city’s parks and greenspaces.
  • Protected property highlight
    Bishop Branch Pastures in Anderson County — just a few miles from Clemson University — has been permanently protected this year by a conservation easement with UF. The 64-acre property is a pastureland oasis with wildlife habitat and water resources pivotal to conservation in this developing area.

  • Sowing Seeds of Success
    Earlier this fall, Lauren Ulich joined partners from the University of Georgia and the Southeastern Grassland Institute to collect native grass seeds for seed banking with the Seeds of Success program. We invite you to learn more from Lauren about this program and its critical importance on our blog.

  • Broad River Basin Council
    Clean Water Director Erika Hollis serves as an environmental expert on the Broad River Basin Council, which is developing a plan to ensure industries and residents have continued access to water in the Basin over the next 50 years. Residents in the Basin can submit comments on the plan at

Glenn Hilliard and the story of The Foothills Trail

Glenn Hilliard at Hilliard Falls on the Foothill Trail (Photo credit: Andrew Gleason)

On December 7th, Greenville's Camelot Cinemas hosted the premiere of the feature-length documentary The Foothills Trail Project. This project — pioneered by filmmaker Preston Bailey of Traveling Panda Media — showcases the scenic beauty along the trail and the community that surrounds and supports it.

The Foothills Trail is a 77-mile trail that travels through several of the Upstate’s pristine protected places, including Table Rock State Park, Sassafrass Mountain, the Jocassee Gorges, Hilliard Falls, the Chattooga River, and Oconee State Park. In Tricia Kyzer’s recent article, she describes the trail as “a balm for the weary soul and retreat from the busyness of life.”

Neither the film nor the trail would be possible without the hard work and dedication of Glenn Hilliard, a devoted environmentalist who serves on the Boards of Directors for UF and conservation partner Naturaland Trust and founded and pioneered the Foothills Trail. At the film's premiere, Glenn received a standing ovation for his contributions to the Foothills Trail — much deserved praise for the man who knows every detail about the trail and its history. Glenn worked for decades to bring this trail to fruition and the Upstate is grateful for the natural gem he helped establish.

The digital version of the film is forthcoming, so stay tuned! For now, you can view the trailer on YouTube.

Read more in the December Upstate Update.

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