GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) For Catie McGowan, working in conservation is not just a passion of hers, but something she views as necessary.

“I think environmental issues are something people should be aware of in general today, we are on a timeline just with the weather-related patterns we’re seeing and just the changes in general with rising human populations,” said Catie McGowan, a new member of the Upstate Trail Corps.

She and a group of other young adults are relocating to Greenville to spend the year building and improving local trails as a part of a new program called the Upstate Trail Core.

“These are young adults who are right out of high school, right out of college, or anywhere in between and it’s a great experience for them to do hands on work, it’s positive for the community, they can kind of grow personally and professionally,” said Matthew Hudson Flege, executive director of the Upstate Greenways and Trails Alliance.

Through the Upstate Greenways and Trails Alliance, known as UGATA, as well as Americorps, a nonprofit organization, this new group will be bringing a specific skill set to the Upstate that is needed right now.

“Trails continue to be the most requested amenity in our parks throughout Greenville County so having a group like this that is professionally trained, has the skills, has the training that we need to safely execute trails but then also the fact that they’re here and they’re local,” said Ty Houck, director of Greenways, Natural and Historic resources for the Greenville County Recreation District.

Over the course of the year the areas listed below will be transformed by the Upstate Trail Core, in an effort to evolve trail building in the area.

  • Rebuilding the iconic Dismal Trail in Caesar’s Head State Park with the South Carolina State Park Service.
  • Building a one-mile multi-use trail at David Jackson Park.
  • Rebuilding a section of the 76.2-mile Foothills Trail in Oconee County
  • Building a one-mile nature trail network for the City of Greer along the South Tyger River
  • Completing a 2-mile hiking loop in Pickens County’s Mile Creek Park
  • Building new nature trails in a new Anderson County Park along the Saluda River in Piedmont

They’ll especially focus on accessibility and inclusion, two components they said are crucial in making these atmospheres welcoming to all residents.

“The environment that we do live in, and creating these more recreational and accessible areas, just making people care about the environment more and be a part of it,” said McGowan.

With this group being the first of its kind, Greenville County parks and recreation looks forward to having a designated team to focus on one of the Upstate’s prized possessions, our trails.

“We’re doing really exciting things by just having community level conversation with groups that not only advocate but activate projects like this,” said Houck.

UGATA said work will officially begin for this new group on Tuesday.

As Americorps members, these young adults will be receiving a living stipend, health insurance, and an education award to help them through this year and their careers.