722 King Street, Columbia, SC 29205
Phone: (803) 771-0870 Fax: 771-0590
Contact: Natalie Britt
August 15, 2018—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Photo & Map attached
Upstate Conservationists Present Check
For Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park
OCONEE COUNTY, SC—Walhalla city leaders received a generous contribution from Upstate Forever Land Trust and affiliate Oconee Forever to help fund continued trail building in the new Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park.
The land conservation organizations presented a $25,000 check to match project funding the city received from the S.C. National Heritage Corridor Grant Program. Construction will expand the state-of-the-art mountain biking and hiking trails in the park. The first four miles opened in May and included 1.5 miles of the mountains-to-sea Palmetto Trail, which anchors the park.
“We are very fortunate to have the support of Upstate Forever and Oconee Forever as we work with Palmetto Conservation to build out a first-class trail system in our Stumphouse conservation easement,” Mayor Danny Edwards said. “Stumphouse Tunnel Park is an incredible natural resource for the City of Walhalla and Oconee County, and these trails will allow our residents and visitors to enjoy this special place for generations to come.”
“Upstate Forever is pleased to help support this wonderful community amenity that will add more recreational options for Upstate residents,” Executive Director Andrea Cooper said.
Speaking for Oconee Forever, local attorney and conservationist Shea Airey said, “We believe the sustainable tourism represented in these new mountain biking and hiking trails is a catalyst for genuine economic growth and cultural enrichment in our community. It seems a fitting cause to donate these funds to provide new ways to access and enjoy the beauty and magic of Stumphouse.” The funds were raised from Oconee Forever’s annual “Rally in the Valley” event featuring bicycling, music and local food.
When completed, the Bike Park will feature more than 20 miles of beginner through advanced mountain biking trails to delight riders of all levels. In future, the Palmetto Trail will provide hikers and mountain bikers a continuous connection from downtown Walhalla to the Bike Park, Oconee State Park and beyond. The Palmetto Trail is South Carolina’s largest trail construction project with 375 miles of the 500-mile public trail completed for nonmotorized recreation from Walhalla to Awendaw.
Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park is a collaborative project of the City of Walhalla, Oconee County, Upstate Forever, Oconee Forever, Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) and other partners. The city owns the 440-acre property, which is a designated heritage preserve in Oconee County. Upstate Forever holds a permanent conservation easement on the property. Oconee Forever is the local all-volunteer affiliate created from the grass-roots public support to preserve Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. PCF owns the Palmetto Trail and provides expert oversight of trail construction at the Bike Park by Benchmark Trails of Greenville, the Palmetto Conservation Corps, and volunteers.
PCF Executive Director Natalie Britt said, “We are incredibly privileged to work with the many exceptional partners who created Stumphouse Mountain Heritage Preserve and continue to support Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park.”
Upstate Forever’s conservation easement protects Stumphouse Mountain from residential, commercial and industrial development, but allows for the new Bike Park’s sustainable, natural-surface recreation trails. The hiking and mountain biking trails provide safe, sustainable public access and promote active recreation in the county and region. The easement also maintains public access to Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls.
Other project partners include Walhalla Partners for Progress, Oconee County Council, Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, Oconee Economic Alliance, Visit Oconee SC, Oconee Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, S.C. Parks, Recreation & Tourism, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, S.C. Legislature, Issaquenna’s Last Ride, Upstate SORBA, Oconee Hiking Club, REI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the S.C. National Heritage Corridor.
About the Palmetto Trail
The scenic Palmetto Trail is one of 16 cross-state trails in the United States and is recognized regionally and nationally as a visitor-friendly attraction. The Trail inspires active, healthy living and showcases the state’s diverse natural beauty, fascinating history, and rich rural and urban culture. From mountains to sea, the Palmetto Trail connects Oconee County to Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Richland, Sumter, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Berkeley and Charleston counties. When finished, the Trail will extend about 500 continuous miles from Walhalla to Awendaw. With 28 completed passages and multiple trailheads, the Palmetto Trail is accessible from anywhere in the state for day trips, weekend jaunts and longer treks. Passages are typically fewer than 15 miles in length, but range from 1.1 to 47 miles. Passages feature wilderness and backcountry paths, urban bikeways, greenways, rails-to-trail conversions, city sidewalks, and even the steps of the State Capitol. The Trail connects private and public lands, state parks, national and state forests, Revolutionary and Civil War sites, and numerous cities, towns and communities. For information and downloadable maps of Palmetto Trail passages, and to become a Palmetto Conservation member and Trail supporter, visit www.palmettoconservation.org.
About Palmetto Conservation
The mission of Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) is to conserve South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources, preserve historic landmarks, and promote outdoor recreation through trails and greenways. Founded in 1989, PCF is a statewide nonprofit organization with headquarters in Columbia. PCF’s largest and best-known project is building and maintaining the mountains-to-sea Palmetto Trail. PCF’s newest program is the Palmetto Conservation Corps, inaugurated in 2016 to help interested young adults in South Carolina learn the job skills to build and maintain public recreational trails, assist with disaster recovery, and develop as conservation stewards and leaders. The Palmetto Conservation Corps is South Carolina’s only trail-based AmeriCorps service program for young adults. To learn more about Palmetto Conservation, the Palmetto Trail and the Palmetto Conservation Corps, visit www.palmettoconservation.org and Facebook/palmettoconservation, or call 803-771-0870.
About Upstate Forever
Founded in 1998, Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of Upstate South Carolina. Our commitment to protect farmlands, forests, rivers, and clean air also includes ensuring that communities retain green spaces, outdoor heritage, and unique identities in the face of rapid development and sprawl. Upstate Forever works in 10 counties with landowners and local stakeholders, business leaders and municipalities to balance growth with protection of natural resources. Our vision is an environmentally healthy, economically prosperous Upstate that offers a high quality of life now and for future generations. Our reputation for common-sense solutions has earned widespread respect across the Upstate region and beyond.
About Oconee Forever
Oconee Forever developed out of the grass-roots support of local citizens who worked diligently to permanently preserve Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls in 2007. After that success, the group continued working to raise awareness for conservation issues in Oconee County. Oconee Forever holds annual events, often featuring warm food and a smile, to help educate local landowners about legal options available to permanently protect the beautiful farmlands, diverse forests and unique special areas that make Oconee County an outstanding place to live and work. The group also hosts “Rally in the Valley,” an annual bicycling, music and food event that raises funds for local conservation and sustainable development projects.
Walhalla city leaders were happy recipients of a check from Oconee Forever and Upstate Forever for the new Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park. Pictured (l–r) are Brent Taylor (Walhalla City Administrator), Tjay Bagwell (Walhalla City Council), Josh Thomas (Walhalla City Council), Walhalla Mayor Danny Edwards, Andrea Cooper (Upstate Forever), Shea Airey (Oconee Forever), Rob Achenberg (Palmetto Conservation Foundation), Chris Starker (Upstate Forever), and Darlene Greene (Oconee County Chamber of Commerce).