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Local nonprofit conservation organization Upstate Forever has announced the recent protection of six properties totaling 735 acres. The properties in Anderson, Greenville, and Pickens Counties were protected by conservation easements, voluntary legal agreements between the landowner and Upstate Forever’s nationally accredited land trust.
The conservation projects recently completed by Upstate Forever include:
Eastatoe Headwaters is a roughly 26-acre property located in the Eastatoe Valley of Pickens County.
Located near the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, the valley lies in the shadow of the Wadakoe mountain range and is an area of conservation focus in part for its rare plant habitat, geologic properties, and scenic vistas. The Eastatoe Headwaters tract is part of a growing swath of protected lands in the area, including the directly adjacent Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, as well as nearby properties preserved by The Nature Conservancy. The conservation easement recently placed on the Eastatoe Headwaters was made possible through the generous support of the South Carolina Conservation Bank.
"The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway and Blue Ridge Escarpment corridors have long been recognized and enjoyed for their expansive scenic views," commented Raleigh West, executive director of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. “We’re pleased to see the momentum of land protection in this part of the Upstate and honored to have a role in the protection of this property.”
Five Oaks Farm is 401 acres of forest and pastureland with more than a mile of frontage along the Saluda River located in Southern Greenville County. The landowners plan to maintain the property for hunting and wildlife management while encouraging native grassland habitat.
Originating in the scenic valleys of Pickens and Greenville Counties, the Saluda River is the longest river flowing through the Upstate and borders six SC counties before joining the Congaree River near Columbia. For its immeasurable value to water quality both in the Upstate and downstream — as well as its rich wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities — properties like this one along the Saluda River are an area of area for Upstate Forever’s conservation efforts.
Beaverdam Creek Preserve is located just outside of the City of Greer in Greenville County. This 33-acre property boasts significant frontage along Beaverdam Creek — a tributary of the South Tyger River — as well as wildlife habitat and 11 acres of wetlands. A conservation easement ensures this land’s conservation values and scenic views are protected in an area facing extreme development pressure. Funding from the Upstate Land Conservation Fund and the US EPA under a Section 319 Grant through SCDHEC contributed to the success of this project.
Bryson Children’s Nature Walk is a 63-acre property home to an impressive network of beaver ponds and which encompasses headwaters of Six Mile Creek in Pickens County. The Town of Six Mile — which now owns and will manage the property — plans to open the land as a public park and outdoor classroom for students at the adjacent Six Mile Elementary School in the future. Amenities planned for the park include trails, a boardwalk, pond overlook, and natural habitat preservation. This project received support from the Upstate Land Conservation Fund.
Blackwell Farm consists of approximately 50 acres near Tigerville in Northern Greenville County. The property contains meadows fringed with hardwood and pine forests, diverse plant species and wildlife habitat, and tributaries of the Tyger River. The protection of Blackwell Farm will ensure the land retains its natural qualities in an unzoned part of the county experiencing intense development pressure. Funding from Greenville Women Giving, the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and a reimbursement from the US EPA under a Section 319 Grant through SCDHEC made this project possible.
Also recently protected by a generous landowner who wishes to remain anonymous is a 161-acre property in Anderson County.
“Upstate Forever is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023. I can’t think of a better way to begin this momentous year than by permanently protecting more of our region’s farmlands, forests, wildlife habitats, waterways, and special places,” said Scott Park, Upstate Forever’s Glenn Hilliard Director of Land Conservation. “We are tremendously grateful to the landowners, funders, and partners who helped make these projects happen.”
Since its founding in 1998, Upstate Forever has permanently protected 30,000 acres through conservation easements across the ten-county Upstate region of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, and Union Counties. Conservation easements are voluntary contracts that allow the landowner to legally restrict certain land uses from occurring on their property, such as the development of residential subdivisions, commercial or industrial operations, while allowing traditional rural land uses, such as farming, grazing, hunting, and timbering to continue. This agreement is permanent and remains with the land even after it has been sold or willed to heirs.
Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of the Upstate of South Carolina. We focus our work on the ten counties of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. Since 1998, we have worked to protect the natural assets that make the Upstate so special: our farmlands, forests, natural areas, rivers, and mountains. We are committed to ensuring that our communities are vibrant and retain their green spaces, outdoor heritage, and unique identities in the face of rapid development and significant sprawl. Upstate Forever has offices in Greenville and Spartanburg.