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2023-2027

Upstate Forever's Strategic Goals

Upstate Forever’s mission is to protect critical lands, waters, and the unique character of Upstate South Carolina. Our vision is an environmentally healthy, economically prosperous Upstate that offers a high quality of life now and for future generations.

We have a proven track record of working tirelessly to conserve land, protect drinking water, and advocate for policies and plans that support smart, balanced growth. Every five years, we conduct a strategic planning process to identify the primary goals and objectives that will best position Upstate Forever to achieve its mission. Our 2023-2027 Strategic Goals reaffirm our commitment to the Upstate region and are the driving force behind our work through 2027.

Our three primary goals are:

  1. Accelerating our core work to protect and improve the health of critical lands and waters.
  2. Expanding our advocacy capacity.
  3. Strengthening our base of support.

Below, we've broken down these high-level goals into more specific objectives, as well as explanations for why each objective is important.

Goal 1: Accelerate our core work to protect and improve the health of critical lands and waters

  • Reach 50,000 acres of permanently protected land.
    Conservation easements remain one of the most effective tools to protect and maintain the health of our lands and waters. With a clear set of high-priority objectives, we will strive to reach our next milestone—50,000 acres of land permanently protected through conservation easements and collaborative partner projects.
  • Protect smaller, high-quality properties.
    We will extend our conservation efforts to include smaller parcels that make an outsized contribution to the region’s conservation footprint and quality of life with a focus on places of historic and cultural value, places that offer scenic vistas or opportunities for recreation, and places that provide more equitable access to greenspace for underserved communities.
  • Develop a land management program.
    Designed to enhance the land conservation work we already do, our new land management program will focus on communicating techniques, impacts, and lessons learned to landowners and the larger community; it will promote the resiliency of conserved lands by restoring their ecosystem function through streambank restoration, the removal of invasive species and the addition of native plantings, and the institution of best land management practices
  • Safeguard water quality and quantity.
    To ensure every Upstate community has access to clean, safe, and reliable water, we will participate in the development of a state water plan that balances growth with conservation needs. We will also implement the next steps of our watershed protection plans by protecting 1,500 acres of land in areas containing drinking water sources and partnering with landowners to install 175 water quality improvement projects on their land.
  • Strengthen the Upstate Land Conservation Fund

    Increasing reserves of accessible capital will ensure we can compete more effectively against developers, close easements more quickly, and create stronger applications for government-matching grants by leading with a robust local match.

goal 2: expand our advocacy capacity

  • Build relationships with local officials to advance policy change.
    By developing relationships with elected and appointed officials in communities throughout the Upstate, we will build support for policy change related to smart growth, access to greenspace, the protection of water, and land preservation.
  • Support meaningful water policy.
    By collaborating with government agencies, elected officials, partner organizations, and utilities, we will support the development and adoption of scientifically sound and effective water laws and policies at the local and state level.
  • Advocate for the Upstate’s natural resources and clean energy at the state level.
    With statewide partners, we will act as a voice for Upstate communities as we develop and advocate for effective legislation that expands clean energy options and protects and improves the quality of watershed lands and water resources, the resilience of Upstate ecosystems, and the health of Upstate communities.
  • Secure additional funding for conservation.
    We will work with elected officials, business partners, and residents to secure additional private and public funding for conservation, including county conservation banks, to protect the places that sustain the Upstate's high quality of life, safeguard water quality, and offer residents access to green space.
  • Mobilize partners and residents when Goliath-like threats arise.
    When projects pose a grave threat to water quality, critical conservation lands, endangered species, or natural assets of unique community significance, we will mobilize partners and citizens to improve project outcomes or fight them if we must.

Goal 3: strengthen our base of support

  • Expand resident advocacy training.
    We will increase opportunities for residents to participate in training that equips them to be powerful advocates to support our mission and demand more of the leaders elected to represent them, with an intentional focus on ensuring diverse participation.
  • Develop partnerships with diverse communities.
    We will embrace opportunities to support community-led initiatives, especially in racially and ethnically diverse communities, with a focus on environmental justice and equitable participation in local decision making.

For more information about our Strategic Goals, contact Deputy Director Lisa Hallo at lhallo@upstateforever.org.

 

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