Protecting Land & Water | Advocacy | Balanced Growth

Huge news! SC includes $10 million in new budget for the Saluda Grade Trail

The Saluda Grade Trail Conservancy, which includes Upstate Forever, is pleased to share that the South Carolina State Legislature recently included $10 million in the 2023-2024 budget towards the purchase of the Saluda Grade Trail, which will run through Northern Spartanburg and Greenville Counties into the mountains of Western North Carolina.


Next steps and community input

The Saluda Grade Trail Conservancy — which consists of PAL: Play. Advocate. Live Well. and Upstate Forever on the SC side, and Conserving Carolina on the NC side — expects to close on the rail corridor within two years and is pursuing state and federal funding opportunities. 

Starting this summer, the Conservancy will reach out to landowners and stakeholders along the trail to seek their input on the opportunities and challenges presented by the trail and approaches that will best meet the community's needs. As part of this outreach, the Conservancy will host three public meetings, solicit feedback through an online survey opportunity, and conduct stakeholder interviews.

To stay up-to-date on the latest Saluda Grade Trail news and events, sign up for dedicated email updates from the Conservancy.

25 years (and counting)

We're celebrating a quarter-century of work in 2023! Head over to to hear from Founder and Senior Advisor Brad Wyche and Executive Director Andrea Cooper on UF’s successes over the past 25 years — and why our work is more important now than ever. Watch now

Wetland protections rolled back

The Supreme Court of the United States's May 25 decision to rollback decades-long wetlands protections puts climate resilience, public health, vulnerable populations, and ecosystems at great risk. Our coalition of clean water advocates will continue fighting to ensure everyone has access to clean water in the Upstate. To stay up-to-date on the latest Clean Water news and issues, sign up for our monthly Water Log.

Growth in rural Greenville County

Scott Park, UF's Glenn Hilliard Director of Land Conservation, participated in a recent panel discussion hosted by the Post & Courier Greenville to discuss the impacts of growth in Greenville County on the region's rural areas. You can watch a recording of the conversation here.

Restoration project at Conestee

We worked alongside Conestee Nature Preserve staff to host the Palmetto Conservation Corps Summer Crew for habitat improvement projects in the Preserve’s grasslands and bottomland forest. The results of this project were significant — more than 5 acres of Bradford pear, Chinese privet, autumn olive and nandina were eradicated from Henderson Meadow, Forester Meadow and along the Sparkleberry Connector trail!

UF & Sustaining Way host Electric Vehicle Equity Roundtable

Together with Sustaining Way, we were pleased to host an Electric Vehicle Equity Roundtable on May 25, 2023, at Feed & Seed Co.’s Hayne Hipp Community Room in Greenville. The roundtable was the first in our region and brought together a diverse group of experts, community leaders, and Upstate residents to discuss various aspects of Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption and equitable mobility options.

We are proud our event provided a platform for industry experts, government officials, and others to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and explore strategies for advancing EV adoption and promoting equitable mobility. We have heard from our attendees that the discussion undoubtedly played a crucial role in advancing the cause of EV equity and fostering a greener, more inclusive future for the Upstate region!

Read more about the event and see speaker presentations here

More news, information & updates

Share your "backyard bingo" card & get an anniversary sticker and native seeds!

Download a printable PDF or social media story template, set a timer for 10 minutes and see what natural wonders you can spot in your backyard, local park, or just out the window. Tag @upstateforever in your completed bingo card on social media or email a photo to We'll send you a 25th anniversary vinyl sticker and packet of native wildflower seeds while supplies last!

City of Greenville Development Code

We're celebrating Greenville City Council's unanimous adoption of the much-needed, long overdue, Greenville Development Code and Zoning Map on June 12. Years in the making, the new Code goes into effect on July 15 and will guide growth and development for a more walkable, bikeable city to emerge in time. City staff will host Code education workshops beginning in July for developers, designers, and community members wanting to learn more — the workshop schedule will be posted here when it becomes available, so stay tuned.

UF staff updates

Please join us in welcoming the newest member to our team, Land Policy Grassroots Specialist Lovetta Walton! In this new role, Lovetta will work to mobilize citizens to advocate for land policies that balance economic development with other community priorities and educate residents on how to navigate local government land planning processes.

We are also celebrating the anniversaries of two staff members this month. Stewardship & Land Restoration Manager Lauren Ulich joined our team in June 2021. Land Conservation Manager Chris Starker joined UF in 2008 and has been working with us to protect the Upstate's critical lands and waters for 15 years!

Restore Chattooga Gorge initiative updates

In 2021, we joined several organizations advocating for the restoration of the Chattooga River at Lake Tugalo, a reservoir created by the construction of the Tugalo Dam built in 1923. Both the dam and reservoir are owned and operated by Georgia Power Company.

The effort since 2021 to restore the Chattooga Gorge has been a long and winding saga — you can get a refresher on the case for decommissioning the dam and what has happened here — but we recently received some good news. The University of Georgia River Basin Center has completed a report on the lower Chattooga River before Tugalo Dam. With this report we are able to better understand the remarkable nature of this National Wild and Scenic River and its associated conservation and recreation values. Click here to read the report

Supporters of the Restore Chattooga Gorge (RCG) Coalition look forward to the next step of the process, which will be utilizing these analyses to create visualizations of what the restored Chattooga would look like. If you are interested in helping to fund this process, consider donating to the RCG's GoFundMe to support the team's legal fees and future visualization efforts.

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Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of Upstate South Carolina.  Over the past two decades, we have worked to protect the natural assets that make the Upstate so special — our farmlands, forests, natural areas, rivers, and clean air. 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. Our vision is an environmentally healthy, economically prosperous Upstate that offers a high quality of life now and for future generations.

For more information, visit our website at or send us an email.