News From The River

2024 Mid-Year Update

FoRR’s 2024 Mid-Year Update

Scott Butler, President of the Board of Directors

It's been a busy 2024 – busier than we can remember -- and we’re barely halfway through the year. With that in mind, we wanted to share with you all that’s been happening while the news is still fresh. So, here’s our first ever mid-year update.

We’ve ramped up our civic and municipal engagement and action. 
Early in the year, along with other conservation groups, we successfully advocated for a Greenville County-wide buffer standard. This limits how closely development can occur to the Reedy.
Similarly, along with partner groups, we continued to push DHEC for full remediation of the decades-long Bramlett site contamination in Greenville’s Southernside Neighborhood. 

We are poised to issue a first-ever set of guidelines to help developers in best practices along the Reedy, which can also provide reference information for municipalities to share with developing entities.

Our board president was interviewed on Greenville County’s Simple Civics podcast, answering questions about the Reedy River and its vital role in Greenville’s history as well as its more recent role in the revitalization of downtown.

Ongoing and new river conservation efforts:
Over a three-week period in February and March, we led volunteers in a big push to wrap up our commitment to the City of Greenville and the Stables at Cleveland Park. This involved three separate volunteer workdays: two days to remove invasive plants; followed by a third day of supplemental native plant installation.
About this same time, a grant enabled us to kick off a much-needed effort to rehabilitate an overgrown, neglected strip of land along the Swamp Rabbit Trail that links the downtown Riverwalk and Unity Park. Naturaland Trust owns these two acres, and when we proposed a plan to develop this area into a riparian/native planting/watershed conservation demonstration and education area, they did not hesitate to say “yes”! The working name is Reedy River Meadow. FoRR is leading the project with support from many of our municipal and nonprofit partners.

We're also re-introducing a citizen science project along the Reedy to identify and monitor sections of the river where the riverbank is at risk of collapsing. Riverbank failure is a significant source of sediment which, in turn, can negatively impact the habitat for essential life in the river.

Education & Outreach:
For the first time, FoRR will have interns throughout the year. 
We began the year with our spring semester intern, Gabby Fehler, who helped with educational video scripts and developed two presentations with scripts geared towards educating young minds about the Reedy River Watershed and what school-aged students can do to help.

This summer (June-to-August) we are lucky enough to have two interns. Alexandra Valdovinos and Kerry Black have been assisting in virtually every aspect of our operations (social media, education, citizen science, fundraising, outreach, and planning for our Fall River Cleanup).

Our fall semester intern, Gage Bell, will start with us in August. His first big project will be to assist in planning our Fall River Cleanup.

In April, to avoid a calendar conflict, we decided to hold our Spring River Cleanup a week later than usual so that we could participate in iMagine Upstate STEAMfest. 

This was FoRR’s first time at STEAMfest, and the results were gratifying. Using a tabletop model donated to us by the Greenville County Soil & Water Conservation District, we showed how different surfaces affect rain runoff into the Reedy.

Best of all, we introduced our first interactive demonstration item – a seed ball bike. Attendees pedaled the bike to produce their own seed balls of native species seeds. We had waiting lines of kids to try their hand (or feet) at pedaling our seed ball bike.

We have expanded our classroom education programs: 
In June alone, Watershed Scientist, Josie Newton (and our interns), participated in five presentations at First Baptist Greenville summer camp and at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary. Josie also made presentations in March, April, and May. 

To supplement these educational efforts, we are developing a series of “quick-draw” videos for elementary and middle school students to demonstrate urban impact on the Reedy and ways to lessen that impact.

More on public service outreach:
So far this year we have led the following organizations in public service events (either in the water or along the river): Publix Super Market, Colonial Pipeline, and CONSOR Engineering. Publix also made generous donation in return for us leading their day of service. Colonial Pipeline has begun offering FoRR a recurring annual grant. CONSOR Engineering’s event is special in that they use their unique training and some specialized equipment to help FoRR remove major blockages in the Reedy.

We continue to engage with local student groups’ public service events. Groups like Greenville Tech Charter High School and Veritas Academy.

Continuing . . .
BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament Commitment to Sustainability

Even though we’ve been supporting this effort since 2019, our role stepped up a notch this year. First, BMW Charities (BMWC) asked us to take a lead role in directing the efforts of not only our Green Team volunteers but also in coordinating the vendors involved. Then, at media day kickoff for the tournament BMWC designated FoRR as one of the tournament’s eight featured charities.

The event produced some impressive results on the sustainability front: Local recycler, Bricolage Dynamics, recycled over 800 pounds of glass. Mosaic Additives – another local Greenville company – turned over 3 tons of food waste into compost. And Osprey Initiatives recycled over 19,000 plastic bottles (760lbs) and nearly 36,000 aluminum cans and cups (1,665lbs). 

We all agreed that the most gratifying big win in this effort make sure no waste goes to landfill was that by coordinating with Greenville’s Loaves & Fishes, we were able to provide 650 meals for distribution locally. These meals were from prepared (but unused) quantities of food at the tournament. In addition, 11 cases of whole fruit were also distributed by Loaves & Fishes.

New Takes . . .
The City of Greenville supports us in many ways. A big one is by picking up tons  of trash collected at our twice-yearly Reedy River Cleanups. After our Spring River Cleanup in April, for the first time, we delivered four dozen donuts and a big note of appreciation by way of thanking them for this year-in-and-year-out assistance.

For several years we’ve worked hard to find sponsors for our Spring and Fall Cleanups. Any sort of fundraising is an ongoing challenge. Dapper Ink (the production side behind the Landmark Project) stepped up this Spring and offered to become our recurring sponsor for our April Reedy River Cleanups. This is on top of providing cleanup t-shirts for hundreds of our volunteers as an in-kind donation for BOTH the Spring and Fall River Cleanups.

Fork & Plough, a restaurant that features locally sourced foods, holds an annual fundraiser every June to celebrate its anniversary. This year, they chose FoRR as recipient of their 6th anniversary celebration. Thanks F&P!

To expand our visibility and networking opportunities, we joined VisitGreenvilleSC . . . an online venture hosted by the City of Greenville to connect visitors with the local business community, and provide information on what’s happening in the city. This website gets an average of over 8,000 visits a day.

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