Photo: Michael Muller

The beauty of rivers is that we all own the water and no one has the right to take away our right for clean healthy water. ~ Hartwell Carson

Hartwell has worked to protect and defend the French Broad River as the Riverkeeper for the last six years. He has played a key role in reducing sediment pollution, starting and expanding bacteria, sediment, and coal ash monitoring programs, implementing over two miles of stream restoration, and ensuring regulations are adequate and enforced to meet the goals of the Clean Water Act to have all waters be fishable and swimmable. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Georgia studying Recreation and Resource Management. While a student there, he worked with the Outdoor Recreation Center as an environmental educator and guide.

After working for the Forest Service in Colorado, Hartwell earned his Master’s of Science from the University of Montana, where he conducted extensive work examining social and ecological impacts on the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Hartwell has also served as a community advocate on the City of Asheville’s Flood Damage Reduction Task Force and Watershed Policy Committee, and currently serves as the president of Tennessee Riverkeeper, board member of the Asheville Affiliates and North Carolina Paddle Trails Association.



Donna Lisenby’s role represents the expansion of our commitment to protect clean water in the region, and her work will complement that of our long-standing chapter, the Watauga River Partners, who work to protect water quality in the Watauga basin through workshops, trainings and hands-on activities.

By adding a second Riverkeeper program to serve our 23-county region, we are enhancing WNCAs ability to protect the biologically diverse and incredibly important headwaters streams of Western North Carolina.

Donna brings vast experience and knowledge to our organization, having served as the Catawba Riverkeeper from 1998 to 2008 and as the Watauga Riverkeeper since 2008. She is North Carolinas most veteran Riverkeeper, with 14 years of experience advocating for the protection, preservation and restoration of our waterways.

She has played a key role in changing the states interbasin transfer law to be more protective of water quantity and was the first environmental advocate to report and blow the whistle on leaking coal ash ponds across the state.
Donna is the recipient of 11 awards for her work to engage citizens and reduce industrial, sewage and sediment pollution. In recognition of her leadership, she was elected by her peers 198 Waterkeepers worldwide to serve as one of only three Waterkeepers on the Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Directors where she works with well known environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Clemson University and two beautiful grandchildren who motivate her work to ensure a healthy environment for future generations. We are fortunate to add another highly respected Riverkeeper to our staff and look forward to her contributions to further the Alliances mission of marshaling grassroots support to keep our water clean and our communities vibrant.