In 1973, Tommy founded Naturaland Trust, a conservation land trust among the first in the Southeast. Tommy conceived and executed a master plan for protection of 40,000 acres connecting the Poinsett and Table Rock watersheds. That land now includes tracts including Jones Gap State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park, and Raven Cliffs Falls. He also provided essential leadership in acquisition and protection of Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area, covering 50,000 acres in North and South Carolina.
Tommy also looked to create ways to help people enjoy this protected land. He oversaw the design and creation of 43 hiking trails in Mountain Bridge preserve. He designed and sponsored the only suspension bridge in South Carolina, which spans Matthews Creek and overlooks Raven Cliffs Falls and gorge in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. He also raised funds for a 1.6-mile trail to Rainbow Falls.
Tommy expressed his love for the environment through photography, publishing several books of nature photography. He was one of the first people to canoe the entire Chattooga River, and took outdoor backpacking and hiking trips to Alaska, Nepal, the Grand Canyon, and more.
For his environmental work, Tommy has won awards including:
- City of Greenville’s Green Day Honoree, 2013
- Upstate Forever Award for Extraordinary Achievement, 2011
- Land Trust Alliance National Conservation Service Award, 2011
- National Association of Park Directors President’s Award, 2011
- South Carolina (2004) and National (2005) Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Conservation Award
- Palmetto Conversation Foundation BMW Conservationist of the Year Award, 2003
- National Wildlife Federation National Conservation Achievement Award, Special Achievement category (one of four nationwide), 2003
- American Bar Association for Excellence in Environmental and Resource Stewardship Award, 2002
- The Garden Club of America Frances K. Hutchinson Medal, 1999
- The Alexander Calder Conservation Award (one recipient selected nationwide of an annual basis), presented by the Conservation Foundation partnership with Union Camp Corporation, 1996
- The Nature Conservancy Oak Leaf Award (one of four nationwide), 1995
- Gulf Oil National Conservation Award (one of ten nationwide), 1983
- South Carolina Wildlife Federation Environmentalist of the Year, 1979
“I hope the future generations will continue to protect our natural resources—the mountains, the waters, the landscape.”
— Tommy Wyche, in 2012