Force of Nature: FOLKS keeps a watchful eye on Lake Keowee watershed issues

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Lake Keowee, with its crystal-clear waters and broad mountain views, is widely embraced as an environmental gem in the South. And thanks to the work of advocates and volunteers with the Friends of Lake Keowee Society (FOLKS), lake residents and recreators can rest assured this pristine place will stay that way for years to come.

Lake Keowee is considered one of the cleanest lakes in South Carolina, and since 1993, FOLKS and its legion of dedicated volunteers have been watchdogs for this watershed, lending a voice on behalf of both environmental preservation and economic viability along Keowee’s 300-plus miles of shoreline. From its modest offices along S.C. 188, FOLKS keeps a close check on water quality, monitoring water clarity at 17 different sites around the lake. They also keep an eye on shoreline abuses, such as unprotected construction activity, and the group conducts regular shoreline cleanups, working to keep the lake pollution-free and pristine for future generations of lake lovers.

Did you know that there are more than 60 islands scattered around the lake? Perfect for picnicking on or lounging along for an afternoon or longer, these islands also need some oversight. FOLKS is in charge of Keowee’s Adopt an Island program, and all but a few have been adopted (by scouting troops, boating and fishing clubs, kayakers and homeowners’ associations, among others), ensuring regular cleanups along these popular gathering areas – from the shoreline to the lake floor.

FOLKS provides community outreach opportunities in the form of educational forums, ecology classes, and science demonstrations, making sure that their reach extends well beyond the shores of the lake. Finally, FOLKS-organized public hearings are regularly held to gather community input on any new large-scale developments under proposal – ensuring continuing oversight and awareness of lake activity.

We are so grateful for FOLKS and the volunteers who make up its ranks. They are working to leave a lasting legacy on Lake Keowee’s cool mountain waters and breathtaking shorelines, and their efforts will surely extend many generations into the future and beyond.

For more information about FOLKS, or to volunteer your services, visit their Web site at

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A full-time Information Technology guru with Seneca-based NCEES, Steven Matthews is the founder and administrator of, a unique Web experience for potential Lake Keowee real estate buyers, premier real estate agents, and exceptional businesses in the Lake Keowee marketplace. A native of South Florida and an alumnus of Florida State University, Matthews has adopted the Upstate as his second hometown, and he's embraced Lake Keowee as his first and favorite place to recreate with his wife and two young boys. Although he enjoys photography and outdoor adventure of all stripes, Steven’s favorite way to enjoy the lake’s tranquility, wide-open spaces, and mountain views is from the seat of a Chaparral deck boat.

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