The Upstate Update: November 2023

November 29th, 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.

We are thankful for your support this holiday season

2023 has been a year of celebration for Upstate Forever, and we could not have had 25 years of success without your generous support. Because of you, this year our team has:

  • Permanently protected 9 properties through conservation easements with another 8 properties projected to close by year end
  • Collaborated with clean water partners to bring the Tyger River Recreation Region to the master plan phase in Spartanburg County
  • Engaged in 7 upstate planning and policy initiatives and saw 3 major policy adoptions to help protect natural assets and support housing and mobility choices
  • Hosted a first of its kind Electric Vehicle Equity Roundtable with partner Sustaining Way to promote EV adoption and equitable transportation
  • Secured $10 million in funding in this year's budget from the South Carolina Legislature to acquire the Saluda Grade Rail Trail
  • Plus many more success stories!

Thank you for your gifts this year! You have directly impacted the preservation of critical lands, waters, and natural assets in the Upstate. If you have not given this year, please consider a tax-deductible gift to support conservation in the Upstate!

Also in this month's newsletter:

  • Rocky River Nature Park workday: Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help us plant native wildflowers and grasses in Anderson's beloved Rocky River Nature Park. These plantings will improve water quality and enhance foraging and nesting areas for native wildlife and migratory species who reside in and visit this critical Upstate habitat.

  • Citizens Planning Academy recap: Congratulations graduates! Our Land Planning and Policy team wrapped up this year's Citizens Planning Academy on October 25th. We had a great cohort this year of 29 Greenville citizens who participated in our course to become more informed, effective participants in local land use planning and policy decisions.

  • Greenville Chamber DEI Summit: In October, five UF staff members attended the Greenville Chamber's 7th Annual Diversity and Economic Inclusion Summit where they learned from local and national experts about elevating DEI work at Upstate Forever. Key themes included greater sustainability, productivity, and community prosperity.

  • IRA qualified distributions: If you are 70.5+ years old, then you qualify for the IRA charitable rollover gift. Give any amount (up to $100,000 a year) directly to a qualified nonprofit without having to pay income taxes on the money. Any gift this holiday season would make a difference towards conservation in the Upstate. Click here to donate today.

Remembering Rudy Mancke

Like so many nature-loving South Carolinians, we were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Rudy Mancke, who dedicated his life to celebrating and sharing the natural splendor of the Palmetto State. In a touching tribute, Land Conservation Manager Chris Starker shared how Rudy’s lifelong passion helped shape his own life... 

If you grew up in the public school system of SC, especially in the 80s, you probably watched Rudy Mancke’s NatureScene on SCETV every Friday in science class just like I did. So, for the six years when I lived in Columbia and worked at The Backpacker, assisting Rudy and his production team to get them the right clothing and gear for every excursion was always a highlight of the day. One of the nicest people I've ever met, Rudy was exceptionally humble and treated everyone like an equal despite our collective awe. After all, he was a childhood hero to everyone who worked there. 

When the River Network held their annual River Rally conference in Charleston once upon a time, Rudy was the keynote speaker. I took that opportunity to reintroduce myself, but to my surprise he remembered me from those days at The Backpacker many years ago like they had happened just yesterday. I may have embarrassed him that day when I said that like Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, and E.O. Wilson, he played a vital role in shaping the person I am today — such was his capacity for humility.  

Certainly, he made the world a better place everywhere he went and with whomever he met. 

Read more in the November Upstate Update

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