Upstate Forever

Success Stories

Since 1998, Upstate Forever has built a solid foundation and reputation as a thoughtful and deliberate research-driven organization seeking to balance growth with the protection of the region’s natural resources. We have worked to protect some of our region’s most important assets – our wild and working farmlands, rivers and clean air, and rural character – and to ensure that our Upstate communities are vibrant and retain their unique identities in the face of rapid development and significant sprawl.


Our successes include

  • Signing 140 conservation agreements that protect nearly 28,000 acres of critical lands in the region, such as Stumphouse Mountain and Chauga Heights in Oconee County, Nine Times in Pickens County, Gap Creek (Jones Gap Extension) and other key tracts in the Blue Ridge Escarpment, land along Highway 11, and a number of beautiful farmlands that collectively help to preserve our greatly threatened natural heritage

  • Becoming the first land trust organization in South Carolina to receive national accreditation

  • Playing an essential role in securing and opening Greenville's Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail and catalyzing an extension of the trail from downtown to CU-ICAR and continuing to play an active role to complete the long-term plan for the trail

  • Establishing and operating the Greenville B-cycle bike-share program

  • Leading coordination of blueway trail mapping throughout SC and catalyzing river access across the Upstate

  • Mobilizing public opposition to stop Duke Energy's proposed substation and 45-mile long transmission line across the Foothills and Blue Ridge Mountains of the Upstate and western North Carolina

  • Appealed a proposed 254-home subdivision that would have forever altered the character of Glassy Mountain, a Pickens County Icon, and worked with the landowners and community members to realize a conservation solution

  • Securing a voluntary agreement from Duke Energy to remove coal ash improperly stored along that Saluda River

  • Assisting the Southern Environmental Law Center in a successful US 4th Circuit Appeal addressing the 2014 diesel spill in Belton, SC

  • Successfully advocating for implementation of the federal court's consent decree to remove PCB-contaminated sediment and two dams on the Twelve Mile River

  • Stopping a proposed mega-landfill in Spartanburg County and a coal ash landfill in Pickens County and promoting waste reduction and recycling through collection events for household hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals

  • Releasing an eye-opening growth projection study for the Upstate that shows what our region will look like in 2030 if current development patterns and policies remain unchanged

  • Managing one of the most comprehensive watershed studies ever undertaken in the country and leading implementation of many recommended solutions throughout the Saluda-Reedy Watershed, resulting in significant water quality improvements which allow residents and industries to continue to use and enjoy Lake Greenwood

  • Advocating successfully for the enactment of hospitality taxes in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties to fund parks and greenways

  • Creating and successfully advocating for the adoption of the Stormwater Banking Program, a market-based initiative for cleaner water that provides incentives for better development in the City and County of Greenville

  • Restoring nearly 3,000 feet of trout habitat in the South Saluda River

  • Advocating successfully for the enactment of progressive local ordinances relating to encouraging more walkable communities, tree protection, stream buffers, clustered developments, big box stores, and parking lots,

  • Completing the LEED Platinum-certified renovation of our Greenville office and introducing the EarthCraft green building standard to South Carolina through our "Upstate House" project.

Photo: Mac Stone Photography


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