Watauga Riverkeeper

The Watauga Riverkeeper is the key protector and watchdog of the Watauga River Basin in Western North Carolina. MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper endeavors to monitor and protect the quality of our region’s waterways through dedicated volunteers and engagement with Watauga and Avery county communities and local and state government. The riverkeeper wants all High Country residents and visitors to enjoy clean waterways free of sediment pollution and supporting a thriving mountain ecosystem.

Andy Hill

Andy Hill

Watauga Riverkeeper

Andy is MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper, protecting and advocating for the Watauga River Basin. Andy has a passion for clean, cold, fishable, drinkable, swimmable water.  As a long time fly fisherman, educator and guide, Andy is intimately familiar with our watershed from headwaters to the tailwater and is passionate about protecting the places we love.

phone (828) 278-9821
envelope andy@mountaintrue.org

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Watauga Riverkeeper Work

The Watauga Riverkeeper carries out the following programs and initiatives to protect the Watauga and Elk Rivers:

  • VWIN Water Quality Monitoring Program where volunteers take 65 water samples monthly from 13 sites located throughout the Watauga River watershed to ensure that our waterways are clean and healthy.
  • Recreation/Access: The Watauga Riverkeeper works with local individuals and groups to improve access to fishing and recreational opportunities on the Watauga River.
  • Stormwater management will occur through the Muddy Water Watch program. Trainings will start this fall for Muddy Water Watch, a citizen-led initiative to reduce the amount of sediment polluting our waterways.
  • SMIE Biomonitoring Program through which the Watauga 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 Watauga River.

Watauga Riverkeeper News

Celebrate Earth Day with MountainTrue

Celebrate Earth Day with MountainTrue

For six years, MountainTrue members kept the pressure on Duke Energy and the state Department of Environmental Quality. You are part of that legacy. Your support held Duke Energy accountable. Recent victories are an important reminder that your activism can change the course of history.

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MountainTrue’s Statement on DEQ’s Announcement to Order Full Excavation of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits in North Carolina

MountainTrue’s Statement on DEQ’s Announcement to Order Full Excavation of Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pits in North Carolina

On April 1, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that they will require full excavation of all coal ash impoundments in NC. As a result, a total of nine coal ash pits at six coal-burning plants – Allen, Belews, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro – must be fully excavated and moved to lined landfills. Below are statements from MountainTrue’s Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, and MountainTrue’s Co-Director, Julie Mayfield.

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Protect the Clean Water Act from Industry Polluters!

Protect the Clean Water Act from Industry Polluters!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposal that would gut the Clean Water Act, a bedrock environmental law that has protected America’s waters for generations. Time is running out before the comment period closes on April 15. Take the action below to show that Western North Carolina will not stand for our waterways and communities being put at risk.

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Tell NCDEQ: We Need a Hearing about Mine Permits on the North Toe River

Tell NCDEQ: We Need a Hearing about Mine Permits on the North Toe River

Right now, the permits for all six mining facilities on the North Toe River are up for renewal. Take the action below to tell the NC Department of Environmental Quality that the Spruce Pine community deserves a public hearing to have a voice in the future of the North Toe before the permits are approved.

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Keep the Watauga and Elk Rivers Clean

You can help keep the Watauga 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 Andy Hill at andy@mountaintrue.org.


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.