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Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about our organization. If you have a question that is not answered below, or you'd like to learn more about Upstate Forever's work, please contact us.
We are a nonprofit conservation group in Upstate South Carolina that works to balance growth with the protection of our natural resources.
We work with landowners, communities, local stakeholders, municipalities, like-minded businesses, and partner nonprofits to protect critical lands, waters, and the unique character of South Carolina. Our three main program areas are Land Conservation, Clean Water, and Land Planning & Policy. We also work on some projects related to energy, outdoor recreation, and legislative issues when they are closely related to our core mission.
We focus our work on the ten Upstate counties of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. We have two offices: a main office in Greenville and one in Spartanburg.
Upstate Forever is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so our funds come primarily from personal donations, as well as grants from both public and private funding sources. We need your support to exist!
A "conservation easement" (or "conservation agreeement") is simply a voluntary contract between a landowner and a qualified land trust that allows the landowner to legally restrict certain land uses from occurring on their property. This agreement is permanent and remains with the land even after it has been sold or willed to heirs. Conservation agreements typically prevent land uses such as residential subdivisions, commercial or industrial operations, and mining, while allowing traditional rural land uses, such as farming, grazing, hunting, and timbering to continue. Upstate Forever works primarily to secure easements for lands that are the most critical in terms of habitat and water quality.
Yes! All conservation easements are 100% voluntary on the part of the landowner, and we work to ensure that their preferences are honored when we draft the easement. The easement may require the landowner to give up some rights to her property, such as the right to develop large subdivisions or engage in industrial operations. Traditional rural land uses, such as farming, grazing, hunting, and timbering, are typically allowed to continue if the landowner wishes. In short, each agreement is one-of-a-kind, and there is no such thing as a conservation easement without total landowner buy-in. We want to work with landowners to achieve a shared vision for their land in perpetuity.
Absolutely not! We think growth can be a great thing, but it must be properly managed and planned for. Our current land ues practices are outdated and do not adequately address the astronomical growth projected for the region in the next 25 years. We must resist the temptation to sacrifice long-term well-being for short-term gains. Ultimately, enacting forward-thinking development policies with sustainability in mind will save Upstate taxpayers money and preserve the quality of life we all love.
We receive many requests to engage in specific land use disputes across the region. As a nonprofit with limited staff and resources, we have to carefully consider which of these to engage in, as they often require a lot of time, attention and energy. While these may be important and worthy projects, we have to stay focused on “the big picture.” This usually means seeking to protect large tracts of land with conservation significance and to establish policies (at the city and county levels) that result in growth that’s more sustainable and less harmful to our natural resources in the long term.
We can’t achieve our mission without you! The best way to show your support is to make a donation, sign up for our email list, and follow us on social media to stay informed on the issues. If your funds allow, consider joining the Wyche Society by giving annually at the $2,500 level and above. We also offer volunteer opportunities through the SC Adopt A Stream program. Check out our Get Involved page for more ways to help.