BOONE – Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill is looking for some hearty volunteers to help stabilize local riverbanks and prevent erosion in the Watauga River Basin. The Watauga Riverkeeper will hold a series of “Paddle-n-Plant Days” where volunteers will plant “live stakes” while wading and/or paddling in the Watauga.

A live stake is a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks and eventually reduces sediment erosion.

“These stakes will grow into trees that will stabilize the sides of the rivers and creeks where we plant them, and will reduce the overall amount of sediment getting into the river,” Hill explains. Sediment is one of the worst forms of river pollution, as it clogs aquatic habitats, increases water temperature, which is harmful for trout and other species, and transports toxic substances. When spring comes, the stakes’ nodes that were planted underground will sprout roots, helping to hold the riverbank in place.

This is the third year Hill has organized these “Paddle-n-Plant Days.” Together, Hill and volunteers planted 5,000 live stakes last year, and this year Hill hopes they can plant 10,000 more.

The Watauga Riverkeeper, the New River Conservancy and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development will host a Shade Your Stream Workshop. The workshop will focus on streambank repair and live staking techniques. They will start off with classroom instruction and lunch and then head outside to take part in a hands-on stream repair exercise. There will also be a live stake giveaway. The workshop is free and lunch is included, but an RSVP is required. This kickoff event will be held Friday, Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd, Boone, NC 28607.

Additional “paddle and plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue on the following dates:

Attendees of the live staking days will gather at Valle Crucis Community Park at 10 a.m. on Nov. 8, Nov. 15, Dec. 6, Dec. 13, Feb. 9, Feb. 16, March 13 and March 20. All of these events will last until 2 p.m.

To participate, sign up at If private landowners in the Watauga Basin are interested in a streambank assessment or hosting a live staking workday, Hill encourages them to contact him at

The Watauga Riverkeeper is a program of MountainTrue that promotes swimmable, fishable and drinkable water in the Watauga River basin.

With offices in Boone, Asheville, Hendersonville and Murphy, MountainTrue works in 23 counties throughout WNC and two counties in North Georgia to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in our region.

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