Green Riverkeeper

The Green Riverkeeper is the key protector and watchdog of the Green River Basin in Western North Carolina. MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan, who also serves as our Southern Regional Director, fights for safe and healthy waterways for all citizens of the Green River watershed. Gray brings together and empowers local residents and communities to identify pollution sources, advocate for and enforce environmental laws, and participate in restoration projects. The Green Riverkeeper serves the Green River Basin beginning at the headwaters on the eastern slope of DuPont State Recreational Forest and draining southern and eastern Henderson County before flowing across Polk County and joining the Broad River on the border with Rutherford County.

Keep the Green River Clean

You can help keep the Green River Basin healthy and clean by volunteering with one of our river cleanups or other events. If you are interested in volunteering, click the button below or email Gray Jernigan at gray@mountaintrue.org.

Gray Jernigan

Gray Jernigan

Green Riverkeeper

Gray is MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper, protecting and advocating for the Green River Basin. He has extensive experience in environmental law, policy and advocacy and fights for swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters.

phone (828) 692-0385 x1004
envelope gray@mountaintrue.org

Green Riverkeeper Work

The Green Riverkeeper carries out the following programs and initiatives:

  • VWIN Water Quality Monitoring Program where volunteers take water samples throughout the Green River watershed to ensure that our waterways are clean and healthy.
  • Recreation/Access: The Green Riverkeeper works with local individuals and groups to improve access to paddling and recreational opportunities on the Green River.
  • Stormwater management will occur through the Muddy Water Watch program, a citizen-led initiative to reduce the amount of sediment polluting our waterways.
  • SMIE Biomonitoring Program through which the Green Riverkeeper will be leading workshops and trainings so that citizen scientists can help determine the presence of certain aquatic insects, which are great indicators of river health.
  • Patroling the watershed for polluting activities and serving as a resource and point of contact for the public on issues related to the Green River.

Green Riverkeeper News

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Join GreenWorks and MountainTrue’s French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeepers for the 2018 Big Sweep  – Western North Carolina’s largest single-day river, roadside and creek cleanup. Last year, we broke records for attendance and tons of litter and garbage removed from our rivers, streams and roadsides. This year, help us do even more by taking part in a cleanup event at Westfeldt River Park in Mills River, the Green River Gorge in Saluda, Lake Adger or along the Watauga River.

Cleanups are paired with after parties at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River and Appalachian Mountain Brewery, where cleanup volunteers will gather to celebrate their hard work and enjoy great beer.

What’s Going On With the NC Farm Bill?

Last night Governor Roy Cooper vetoed SB711, a dangerous bill that would greatly limit the constitutional right of North Carolinians living near industrial hog farms to seek justice in the courts for nuisance and pollution of their air and water. This is when we need your calls more than ever. Will you make a quick call to your state representative now to make sure Governor Cooper’s veto of SB711 stands?

Success Story: MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Helps Avoid Shooting Range Next to Green River Game Land

Success Story: MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Helps Avoid Shooting Range Next to Green River Game Land

We did it! After a week of whirlwind organizing, residents of Saluda and the greater Henderson County area are celebrating victory as Hendersonville County Commissioners have promised to back away from building a proposed shooting range and law enforcement training center. “As our region continues to grow, we have to consider what type of development we want to see and how we can strike a balance between the influx of people moving to our beautiful area and the protection of our special places and rural character,” says Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper.

Calling All Businesses: Our Planet Needs You

Calling All Businesses: Our Planet Needs You

As part of #WNCforthePlanet – a celebration of Earth Day throughout the month of April – local conservation and environmental nonprofits are recruiting businesses, civic groups and community organizations to take part in the Business & Community Challenge. Through this competition, groups compete with each other to earn Planet Points and work for the improvement of our local environment.

Super-Volunteer Sky Conard Receives 2017 Esther Cunningham Award

Super-Volunteer Sky Conard Receives 2017 Esther Cunningham Award

Sky Conard is the winner of the 2017 Esther Cunningham Award, given in honor of Esther Cunningham – the founder of the Western North Carolina Alliance, one of three organizations that merged in 2015 to become MountainTrue. To celebrate Esther’s legacy, this award is given to people who have fought the fight, often giving over a large portion of their lives to these battles, who win some and who keep fighting even in the face of defeat.

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

A large portion of farmers in North Carolina produce meat, but the way farmers raise their animals makes a huge difference for our waterways. Waterkeepers across North Carolina have compiled a list of farms in their watersheds that feed us without threatening our rivers, lakes, and streams – farmers who deserve our thanks and our business. Check out the list in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas here. 

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Over the weekend, Duke Energy Spokesperson Danielle Peoples responded to MountainTrue’s paddle protest on the Broad River with multiple untrue statements about the dangers of coal ash and the extent of Duke’s pollution at their power plant in Cliffside, NC [“Battle over coal ash continues in Cliffside” (11/5/17)]. In a Letter-to-the-Editor for the Shelby Star, Western North Carolina’s Riverkeepers stand up for the truth on coal ash and our rivers and set the record straight.


Through Muddy Water Watch, volunteers go out hiking, biking, and driving to collect data about sources of sediment pollution. The data is used to work with the US Forest Service to repair damaged roads, culverts, and other sources of sediment to ensure these streams remain healthy.
After nearly a decade of work by WNCA (now MountainTrue), 11th District Congressman Heath Schuler, and many others, the long-proposed North Shore Road along the shore of Fontana Lake was put to rest. The people of Swain County were financially compensated in lieu of the originally promised road, and pristine streams, sensitive aquatic life and public land were preserved.