From the Director

Whew! We’re now a little more than two months old. What a two months it has been!

In January’s newsletter, we reported 205 members, 160 waterfalls adopted, 154 waterfall adopters, 346 gallons of trash removed, and 266 volunteer hours spent at waterfalls. One month later, we can report 259 members, 172 waterfalls adopted, 195 waterfall adopters, 505 gallons of trash removed, and 442 volunteer hours spent at waterfalls. And the figures for trash removed and volunteer hours is far from the actual amount because we haven’t received reports from everyone.

Needless to say, we’re extremely happy with how things are going. The commitment and enthusiasm everyone is showing is heartwarming. 

We have some exciting announcements in this newsletter. We started a Facebook Group, we received a grant to begin biological surveys, and we have an update (more like a teaser) for the Junior Keepers program that will launch soon. Before we launched Waterfall Keepers, I wondered if it would be difficult to come up with new material each month for our newsletter. Now, the struggle is deciding what to leave out!

Waterfall Keepers is a success because of YOU, not me or anyone else on the staff or board. You are making this work, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it. Thank you!

Please, feel free to reach out to me directly at

Happy Keeping!
Kevin Adams
Executive Director

Dwarf polypody (Micropolypodium nimbata) is known to occur at only one location in North America: the spray cliff of a North Carolina waterfall. Will we discover a new location? 
Photo courtesy Alan Cressler, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Spray Cliff Surveys

You’ve been hearing a lot about our cleanup efforts, but Waterfall Keepers is so much more than a trash collector. It’s going to take time and money to get all our initiatives going at full speed, but rest assured, we are working hard on it every day.

One of our initiatives involves researching and educating people about the the waterfall ecosystem—the Science of Waterfalls. A major component of this is the study of spray cliff natural communities. These environments exist only around waterfalls and support some of the rarest plants in the world. 

We are delighted to announce this month we will begin spray cliff surveys in Transylvania County. Catherine Artzt of Brevard Hemp chose Waterfall Keepers for its annual 1 percent of profits donation campaign. This dedicated grant will allow us to complete two full surveys of waterfalls that haven’t been studied by scientists.

Catherine said she "noticed right away how engaged the community was with the Waterfall Keepers... that really stuck with us...We are proud to join that momentum and help empower this great blossoming organization in its efforts...” 

Thank you, Catherine, for enabling Waterfall Keepers to get started on this important work!
New Facebook Group!

One of our challenges has been assimilating the incredible amount of information people have been sending and sharing on social media, as well as being prompt with providing information and guidance where requested. Please, don’t stop! We love how everyone is so engaged. But we recognize we could be doing a better job for you.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to create a new Facebook group called Friends of Waterfall Keepers. This group is for YOU! It is your forum to share pics and experiences and engage with others who share your waterfalling ethics. It’s a place where you can ask and answer questions, give and seek advice, and coordinate with other Keepers who have adopted the same waterfall as you. 

Before you join, you should know that Friends of Waterfall Keepers is not a hiking group. There are plenty of those on FB. It is not a place to post pics or trip reports or anything else that doesn’t have some tie-in to the Waterfall Keepers' mission. Topics could include trash cleanup, graffiti removal, trail maintenance, erosion, science education, safety, ethics, clean water, flora and fauna protection, and any other conservation-minded topic related to the waterfall environment. You don’t have to be a member of Waterfall Keepers, and you don’t have to be a waterfall adopter to join. 

Our directors and staff will take part in the group when we are able, but we want you to make this group your own. Use it as your resource for information, collaboration, and as an outlet for sharing your passion for waterfalls and everything you’re doing to protect them.

Science Stream

Now that Waterfall Keepers is a whole two months old, you may have noticed one of your most important missions as a Keeper is to pick up trash near waterfalls. When you hear the word trash, you most likely think of bottles and cans and plastic bags. But what about that apple core or banana peel someone tossed out after finishing their snack on the trail? That counts too!

Although potentially less damaging than a can or bottle that will sit there for hundreds of years, organic litter still causes some major issues for the environment. You may think your banana peel will decompose rather quickly, but they can actually take up to two years to fully break down. In the meantime, it is a rotting eyesore to everyone else on the trail.

Not only are rotting fruits ugly to look at, but have you ever smelled them? They might smell gross to us, but they’re pungently delicious to many other creatures. The smell of that rotting apple core can attract different animals to the area. These wild animals begin to learn that where there are people, there is also delicious food being scattered for them. 

Wildlife that learns to depend on tossed out food waste might make the mistake of eating something they shouldn’t. After snacking on that apple core, they may find a plastic wrapper that contained apple slices and recognize it as the same delicious treat. This can cause a lot of damage to the animal if ingested.

When animals associate people with food, they start to depend on this as a reliable food source, sometimes even approaching humans to beg or steal food. Waiting for a human to drop their sandwich crust is a lot easier than braving the wild for a snack. It might seem cute when it’s a duck or squirrel asking for your crumbs, but this can put other animals, such as bears, in danger of being euthanized to protect the humans. 

We have learned not to leave food out to prevent bears in our yard or campsite, and the same should go for our trails and waterfalls, and wherever we spend our time. Even if you aren’t there to see the consequences, this could affect the wildlife for a long time.

When thinking about what is okay to leave on the trail, ask yourself, “Would that be there naturally if I didn’t put it there?” or “Would I be happy to see that on my own property?” If the answer is no, pick it up and add it to your trash bucket! And don’t forget to send us pictures of your hard work keeping our waterfalls clean. We are so thankful for all you do!

Kira King
Science & Education Coordinator
Volunteer Spotlight
The wheels of bureaucracy may turn slowly, but g. Curmudgeon wasn’t about to let that slow him down. When we informed gordie that Waterfall Keepers wouldn’t be able to assemble an official cleanup crew to help him remove an illegal campsite he had found downstream from his adopted waterfall, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

The campsite was more than just an eyesore. A tent, mattresses, cooking stuff, rusty tools, a dog dish with moldy food, and all sorts of refuse were scattered all over the place. This was a squatter camp set up by someone who had no concern for Forest Service regulations and no consideration of others or the environment. 

gordie needed help, but we couldn’t give it to him just yet because we didn’t have a Memorandum of Understanding in place to assemble a work crew on national forest property. So he decided he’d just do it himself. He called the Forest Service and told them he wanted to clean up the site, and with their blessing in hand, he and some friends took care of it. They even got some help from passing hikers who saw what they were doing.

gordie says it’s our executive director’s fault that he has become a trash collector. Ten years ago, he threw a dart at a map and came to this area thinking he would camp the Blue Ridge Parkway for a year and move on. But he came across Kevin’s waterfall book and became addicted to exploring waterfalls. He’s lived here ever since. He started hiking at age 65 and logged some 500 miles a year until his body starting balking. Now, at age 76, he’s down to about 200 miles a year, many of them in search of waterfalls.

gordie’s seen a lot of mistreatment for the land over the years and was happy to see Waterfall Keepers get started. And we’re happy to have such an enthusiastic supporter. Just last week he reported another major trash situation to us. This time, Waterfall Keepers will be there with truck, trailer, tools, and all the help he needs to get it cleaned up.

Oh, g. and gordie aren’t typos. gordie likes to go by g. Curmudgeon, but he said it would be okay if we used gordie here. We wanted you to have a name to attach to this commendable person. 

Thanks so much, g.!
Junior Keepers Update

I am absolutely giddy with excitement and cannot wait for April 1st to get here! For those of you that know me, you know that my passions are education, waterfalls, and kids. So, putting them all together makes me a very happy lady. 

We are busy planning lots of fun and educational programs for the kiddos. We’ve teamed up with some great organizations and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them. There will be playing in creeks, learning about critters, exploring ecosystems, identifying plants, and waterfall safety education. And there will be cleaning up waterfalls and learning about how the litter affects wildlife, water quality, and vegetation. Junior Keepers can look forward to a Waterfall Passport, field trips, educational hikes, and earning badges,

Mark your calendars for April 1st and be prepared for the fun we’re going to have learning about the waterfall environment!

Holly Bass
Associate Director
Upcoming Events

As we mentioned last month, COVID-19 has deeply affected our planning for 2021. There are so many fun and educational events we’d like to offer, but until we can be sure it is safe for everyone, we must hunker down and wait. Fortunately, there are still some things we can do safely. Will you join us?

February 20th
Join us as we clean up along a section of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway in Pisgah National Forest. Our adopted stretch of highway begins and ends at a waterfall and passes by the access points for several more. We’ll provide everything you need and make sure everyone is socially distanced. 

March 20th
North Carolina Waterfall Sweep
The serious planning and organizing for this event has begun. If you’re planning to join us, please let us know soon. We need people to join one of the crews we will have at various locations across the state. And we need trucks and drivers to haul off the trash. 

If you can’t join a crew, you can still participate. In fact, the main performance of the Waterfall Sweep will be the (hundreds?) of people across the state visiting waterfalls on their own to pick up trash. Please put March 20th in your calendar, choose a waterfall, and grab your bucket!

For more info and to add your name to the list of participants, simply reply to this newsletter or email us at