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

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?

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Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports

Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports

Swimmers, paddlers and anglers heading out for a day on the Watauga River have a new resource for checking water safety, the SwimGuide.org – a website that provides free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers and swimming holes in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas and Australia.

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Michael Franti Returns to Asheville July 27 to Headline the Riverkeeper Beer Series

Michael Franti Returns to Asheville July 27 to Headline the Riverkeeper Beer Series

“Michael Franti & Spearhead brought such amazing energy to Asheville last year that it was a no-brainer to bring him back for this year’s French Broad Riverkeeper Concert,” says French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “Asheville loves Michael and he seems to love us back. Last year he took a surprise tubing float down the French Broad before jumping on stage.”

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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.

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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.