Founded in 1973 by Greenville attorney C. Thomas ‘Tommy’ Wyche, Naturaland Trust is one of the Southeast’s oldest conservation land trust. Under Tommy’s leadership, the trust has a history of protecting large and significant tracts of land in South and North Carolina. This non-profit conservation organization has been involved in the preservation of tens of thousands of acres of foothills and mountain land, mainly along the South Carolina–North Carolina border. Naturaland Trust has worked in cooperation with many private, government and other non-profit groups in pursuing its objective of insuring lasting conservation of these lands.
In the late 70’s Naturaland Trust drafted legislation, which was subsequently passed, authorizing government agencies to grant conservation easements. These easements, incorporated into property deeds, have become important tools in limiting development on properties, while retaining private ownership and access.
The Trust’s successes along the Blue Ridge escarpment include leading the effort to preserve the 40,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness – including permanent protection of the Greenville Watersheds, constructing over 50 miles of hiking trails in the mountains, taking an integral role in the campaign for state ownership of the 34,000-acre Jocassee Gorges and bringing to completion the acquisition of the Blue Wall Preserve. These areas taken together offer protection for one of the most biologically diverse and unique eco-regions in North America. Naturaland Trust has also been involved in protecting and enhancing significant river and riparian resources in Upstate South Carolina, as well as other conservation issues.
Recent accomplishments include the acquisition of the former Camp Spearhead in northern Greenville County and, after many years of work, completion of the 1,900 acre Asbury Hills Conservation Easement below Caesars Head. We also constructed two new hiking trails in the Mountain Bridge area – one linking newly acquired Camp Spearhead into the established trail network. Most recently the Trust has acquired several tracts in the South Saluda River valley under the Blue Wall Connection Project – a project to tie the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway and the South Saluda River to ‘The Blue Wall’ – the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment in South Carolina. In the process we have conveyed one unique tract to SCDNR as an extension of Ashmore Heritage Trust Preserve, linking it to State Park property, and a second tract on the scenic highway to the State of South Carolina to double the size of the historic Wildcat Wayside State Park.
Tommy Wyche’s conservation leadership in guiding Naturaland Trust over the years has been recognized by numerous regional and national awards, legislative resolutions and three honorary doctorate degrees. Several hardcover books published by Tommy and the Trust serve to remind readers of the natural treasures to be protected in South Carolina.