Most Winston-Salem natives have fond memories of playing, swimming, and fishing in the Yadkin River. But it’s also a main source of drinking water in the Triad — and the state. Have you ever wondered who takes care of this important piece of Mother Nature?
Edgar Miller, Yadkin Riverkeeper’s new executive director, sat down with us to talk about the organization, fun upcoming paddles, and why he loves Winston-Salem as a place to work and play.
1. How does Yadkin Riverkeeper help the local community?
“Our mission is to protect and enhance the river through education, advocacy, and action. Of course, the ultimate goal of this mission is to keep the river drinkable, swimmable, and fishable. Nearly 1 million North Carolinians depend on the Yadkin River and its tributaries for drinking water.
“We work every day to protect the river from threats to water quality and quantity. Also, we assist local communities that may be facing environmental concerns in their own backyards, literally and figuratively. Whether its hazardous waste at old manufacturing sites impacting a community’s health or eroding stream banks filling feeder streams with sediment, we’re here to help address those challenges.”
2. What are your goals as the executive director for Yadkin Riverkeeper?
“My main focus right now is growing our membership and donor base by increasing public awareness about why the river is so important to our region. Additionally, I’m working with our riverkeeper to keep us at the forefront of assessing and addressing environmental threats to the river. Our long-term goals include supporting communities that are protecting their watersheds, and improving access and recreational opportunities on the river.”
3. What are some ways to get involved?
“Supporting our efforts by becoming a member is a great first step. There are also numerous volunteer opportunities to help with river and lake cleanups, stream restoration projects, and citizen monitoring programs.”
4. What events and programs are coming up for Yadkin Riverkeeper?
“This year we’re launching a historic paddle series for smaller groups to explore some notable places along the river. Spots include the Wil-Cox Bridge area in Davidson and Rowan County, the shoals area in Yadkin County, and the Shallowford area in Forsyth. We’ll also conduct larger paddles this summer over the summer solstice and [this month] from Elkin to the Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery at the confluence of the Yadkin and Mitchell rivers. Participating in these paddles is a great way to learn more about the river, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and get exercise.”
5. Do you have a favorite spot to hang out in Winston-Salem?
“I really enjoy the amazing restaurants in West End and downtown, as well as shopping at all the eclectic shops around West Fourth and Burke streets. Last but not least, you can’t go wrong at Foothills Brewing and Footnote Coffee & Cocktails, where we just held our 2019 annual membership meeting.”
BONUS: What makes Winston-Salem special to you?
“While I grew up in Lexington, I fondly remember celebrating the Christmas season in Winston-Salem. My family would eat at the Towne Steak House and shop at the downtown Sears. Ironically, our offices are located right across from where the old Sears stood on West Fourth Street. The Winston-Salem community has always supported the Yadkin Riverkeeper organization over the years, for which we are very grateful. It reflects the generous spirit that I’ve always associated with Winston-Salem.”
For more information, visit yadkinriverkeeper.org.