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

Public Input Session on Cliffside Coal Ash Closure Options

On January 22, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) will host an information session and receive public input about coal ash pond closure options for Duke’s Cliffside plant. The input they receive at this meeting and through public comments will help decide whether NCDEQ enforces a full cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash or allows them to leave it “capped in place” at the site.

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Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

The grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County will fund this work for the next year and purchase equipment for PHHAT volunteers teams. “The health of the Green is so closely tied with the health of the hemlocks,” said Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director of MountainTrue. “We are so grateful for this funding to allow us to continue this project for another year and save more trees that are vitally important to the forest and river ecosystem.”

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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.