The Upstate Update: January 2024

January 22nd, 2024

Big win for water! 50' riparian buffers in Greenville County

On January 2nd, in a vote of 11:1, Greenville County Council passed a text amendment to significantly strengthen protections for riparian buffers in Greenville County. At least a 50' wide riparian buffer is now required for new development along all Waters-of-the-State in unincorporated Greenville County.

This is a signifiant win for Greenville County that has been over a decade in the making, as land development in Greenville County has accelerated throughout this time period, with limited protections in place for our waterways. Upstate Forever and local partners that comprise the Reedy River Water Quality Group (RRWQG) and other clean water advocates have aggressively championed adoption of stronger riparian buffer requirements in Greenville County, and we are thrilled to have this ordinance in place.

As a reminder, riparian buffers are vegetated areas next to streams and rivers that provide protection from the impacts of adjacent land uses. They are considered the last line of defense for water quality and are the most cost-effective and fiscally responsible way to protect Greenville County’s rivers and streams. The benefits associated with increased riparian buffers — including water quality, flood protection, tax revenue, and recreation — far exceed the costs.

Also in this month's newsletter:

  • Hiring Land Stewardship Specialist
    Upstate Forever's Land Conservation program is seeking a Land Stewardship Specialist. This full-time role supports the Stewardship and Restoration team to fulfill Upstate Forever’s stewardship duties for all properties for which it holds conservation easements. Apply here
  • Sign up for Legislative Updates
    The South Carolina General Assembly is in session from January to May, and State Policy Director Megan Chase-Muller provides weekly Legislative Updates on conservation-related bills and critical action alerts via email. Sign up now for Legislative Updates

  • Wildlife photography tips
    Winter is one of the best times to capture photos of migrating and resident birds in the Upstate. If you're out snapping shots this season, take a look at staff photographer Cathy Bester's tips and some of her stunning photos.

  • Greenville County seed library
    Library card holders in Greenville County have access to 60 varieties of free seeds. As development harms water supply, seed and crop variety in your garden protect soil and water quality. Read more from the Post & Courier

in case you missed it: 2023 highlights

Last year marked our 25th anniversary, and we celebrated many past successes, but we also accomplished so much for land conservation, water quality, and local and state policy in 2023. These are just some of the highlights from the year:

  • Finalized permanent protections on important properties like Triple Oak Farm, a 91-acre Century Farm in Spartanburg County that has remained in the same family for 6 generations. More to come on other recent land protection successes — sign up for the Land Protection News and Updates list to be the first to hear about them.
  • Accelerated work toward purchasing and transforming the inactive Saluda Grade railroad corridor into a nearly 31-mile rail trail connecting the Western Carolinas
  • Worked with more than two dozen landowners to implement water quality improvement projects in the Tyger River and Three & Twenty Creek Watersheds
  • Continued to advocate for land use policies that balance economic development with other community priorities while equipping residents to participate in land planning & policy processes through our Citizens Planning Academy
  • Worked with partners at the Statehouse to pass or advance several UF-backed bills and secure an unprecedented level of state funding for water protection and land conservation tools

Plus much more!

Stay tuned for what 2024 has in store by following us on social media or signing up for one of our other monthly newsletters. Our team of expert program staff share frequent updates on land and water conservation, advocacy, and balanced growth. Click the link to join our other dedicated email lists.

Read more in the January Upstate Update

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