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

Join Us for an Annual Member Gathering in Your Area!

Join Us for an Annual Member Gathering in Your Area!

We are excited to be gathering in person this year to connect with you, our members, to celebrate our award winners and see each others’ smiling faces!
In light of the current rate of COVID infections and the situation in hospitals across our region, we have chosen to host multiple, smaller, outdoor events in place of one large gathering. We are also requiring that all attendees be fully vaccinated in order to participate. If you are not vaccinated, you will have an opportunity to vote for new and returning board members online.

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Stand Up for these Principles at a Comprehensive Planning Meeting

Stand Up for these Principles at a Comprehensive Planning Meeting

MountainTrue is encouraging our members and supporters to take an active role in several comprehensive planning efforts throughout our region. These comprehensive plans are an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our local governments grow and develop. As a resource, we’ve provided a set of principles that local governments should adhere to in order to meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population and increased pressures on our built environment.

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Our Recommendation for the Henderson County Community Survey

Our Recommendation for the Henderson County Community Survey

Henderson Country has kicked off its Comprehensive Planning effort with a Community Survey. This is an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our county grows and develops to meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and increased pressures on our built and natural environments. Check out our guide for members and supporters of MountainTrue who want to see our community grow sustainably and responsibly.

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July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

In our July E-News we celebrate our Bio-Blitz winners, welcome Sarah Ogletree as the new director of the Creation Care Alliance, expose the impacts of clear-cutting at Bottomley Farms, and more.

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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.