If you love waterfalls and want to help in protecting them and their unique ecosystems, check out the new nonprofit, Waterfall Keepers, on how you can help!
Our readers know how much we just love our area forests, parks, hiking trails, and especially, waterfalls. Our list of awesome waterfalls in our area and our waterfall driving tour are some of our most viewed stories and for good reason – waterfalls are awesome. They are not only beautiful but if you ask people why they go waterfall chasing, I bet you’ll get answers that talk about how they are peaceful, awe-inspiring, calming, and just plain incredible.
Waterfalls Need Protection
Yet have you been on trails and seen trash strewn around or wrappers left over from lunches on rocks near the falls? I have. Or maybe you’ve seen obvious erosion around popular waterfalls from people climbing all over the place, destroying the natural habitats of creatures that live there. Or even worse is reading about or knowing people who have died at these natural wonders from accidental slips.
And largely because of the pandemic (and social media) and the lack of places open, people have flocked in droves to parks and forests. Many of these places you couldn’t even get if you didn’t get up at the crack of dawn to drive to. There aren’t enough park staff to keep up with the maintenance and education that this new influx of people require.
So that’s where we’re at right now but it doesn’t need to be the future of our beautiful natural landscapes, which is exactly why a waterfall and nature-loving group of individuals founded Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina.
What’s Waterfall Keepers?
Waterfall Keepers is a brand new nonprofit that seeks to protect the natural beauty and landscape of waterfalls in Western NC. Personally, I travel to WNC several times a month to hike and explore waterfalls and we have a lot of content about our northern neighbor so even though the group is based in NC, we here in the Upstate care about these waterfalls also.
Waterfall Keepers was founded by the author of North Carolina Waterfalls, Kevin Adams. If you don’t have his book, I highly recommend you buy it. It’s always in my car and I’ve discovered some truly amazing places because of it, many totally off the beaten path and away from the crowds. Kevin is also a photographer who grew up with a love of waterfalls and feels it’s time to give back.
Co-founder Holly Bass is a homeschooling mom to one son and teaches mathematics part-time. She’s a super cool woman who has no fear of trying new trails and finding waterfalls wherever they may be.
Waterfall Keepers plans to host waterfall clean up days plus events for members at private waterfalls. They are also compiling a historical library on the area’s waterfalls, which I think is a really neat aspect. I love thinking about who else has laid eyes on the waterfalls I see and what they thought and why they happened to come across the falls.
They already have a great page on education, which includes how to stay safe while at waterfalls and things to watch out for on the trails.
In the spring of 2021, Waterfall Keepers plans to announce programs for Junior Waterfallers that are specifically geared towards kids and getting them involved on protecting waterfalls.
If you have a favorite waterfall, Waterfall Keepers invites you to “adopt” that waterfall, which means you visit it several times a year, pick up trash and send back reports on trail and waterfall conditions.
There are also lots of volunteer opportunities like cleaning up, removing graffiti, trail maintenance, tree removal, and fundraising.
Waterfall Keepers of SC?
While Waterfall Keepers is based in NC for now, the concept certainly extends into South Carolina. Waterfall Keepers is open to the possibility of starting a similar group in SC but if you love waterfalls and have a trash bag handy on a hike, why not start yourself?
I’ve started bringing extra trash bags with me on hikes for this purpose and my kids usually spot litter before I do because they understand how precious our beautiful forests and waterfalls are and also want to protect them.
There really isn’t any reason why all of us who spend time outside, on trails, and taking endless photos at the waterfalls we love can’t help keep them pristine. We can even share information from Waterfall Keepers of NC to help educate one another on how to stay safe around waterfalls and really how to make the most of our time enjoying the falls.
Happy waterfall chasing!
Waterfall Keepers of NC website
Do you have a favorite waterfall?