SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — A proposed 31-mile rail trail could affect property owners across the Upstate and parts of North Carolina.

“We see for many people that this land is their greatest asset and people want to be able to protect that asset,” said Lindsay Brinton, a lawyer with Lewis Rice firm from St. Louis, Missouri.

This summer, PAL Spartanburg, Conserving Carolina, and Upstate Forever announced plans to buy the Saluda Grade Railroad, to create a 31-mile trail from Landrum to Zirconia, North Carolina.

“This is a federal program, the federal Trails Act, which enables this conversion to happen,” said Brinton.

Brinton said people who live or own property near the railroad probably own the land under the tracks.

“The railroad typically holds just an easement so they just have the right to run trains up and down this line and the adjacent land owners typically own to the center line of that easement,” said Brinton.

If it’s converted into a trail, she said people can file a claim against the government for taking their land and can potentially get paid.

“We have an appraiser that will come out and look at your property. Many times, residential properties will be devalued in whole because of this conversion. Most people don’t necessarily want to host the trail on their property or in their backyard,” said Brinton.

At a meeting in Landrum on Wednesday, Rich Miller, who owns property near the proposed trail, said he’s learning more about the process.

“They’ve laid the track out for me,” said Miller.

He said he may file a claim, if plans for the rail trail go through.

“It’s a two-way street. I really kind of feel I’d like to not see it happen, but who could turn down money I guess,” said Miller.

Brinton said payouts for claims vary, but she encourages people who live near the proposed trail to take advantage of the opportunity.

“The money is set aside. It doesn’t affect the trail at all, so we always say we’re trail neutral. Whether you want the trail or not, you still have a constitutional right to be paid when the government takes your property,” said Brinton.

Brinton said there’s a six year statue of limitations from when the property was taken for people to file a claim in rail trail cases.

The Saluda Grade Railroad has been inactive since 2001.