Catawba Riverkeeper Hires New Staff
On June 11, CRF hired Sam Perkins as its Director of Technical Programs.
June 11, 2012 (Charlotte, NC) – The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization that advocates for the health, protection and enjoyment of the Catawba River watershed, is pleased to announce the hiring of Sam Perkins as Director of Technical Programs.
According to Rick Gaskins, Executive Director of CRF, “Sam will be immediately assuming some of the responsibilities of former Riverkeeper David Merryman, particularly responsibilities relating to water testing and investigating reports of problems. As time goes by CRF anticipates that Sam will assume more and more of the Riverkeeper responsibilities. Rick Gaskins observed that “trying to cover a 5,000-square-mile river basin that extends from the mountains of North Carolina to Lake Marion, which is southeast of Columbia, SC, can be overwhelming.” For the immediate future, Rick Gaskins will continue to serve as Catawba Riverkeeper and Executive Director.
Sam is well qualified to investigate the scientific issues and communicate with the public about the issues in the Catawba-Wateree River basin. In December, Sam finished a Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research thesis, titled “Event-driven Sediment Transport in a Highly Responsive Lowland River as Influenced by Climate and Land-use Change” investigated how a century of change in the Haw River basin – which merges with the Deep River to form the Cape Fear River – has affected the hydrology and the sediment transport in the river.
Prior to graduate school, Sam completed two B.A. degrees in 2008 at UNC-Chapel Hill – one from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the other from the Institute for the Environment. Since 2005, he has been engaged in hydrological (oceanic, estuarine and riverine) research projects, as well as with various Triangle-area news publications.
Born and raised in Charlotte, Sam has extensive family ties in the North Carolina mountains. Sam has also spent extensive time hiking and enjoying the outdoors with family in the Asheville, Marion and Spruce Pine areas.
“The Haw River, especially with its history, was fascinating to study. The issues plaguing the Catawba – from development and pollution to energy utilization and inter-basin transfers – are the same, and I have always wondered how I could apply my research to the Catawba River basin,” said Sam. The Haw River basin incorporates multiple municipalities, including Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Durham and Burlington, among others, though municipalities outside the basin, such as Raleigh, Cary and Apex, fight for drinking water rights from it.
“Human impacts are no longer simply a possible source of error in research projects. Human impacts are the research projects,” Sam stated. “I have grown up in the basin and want future generations to be able to enjoy it as I have. The Catawba is the tap water we drink and in which we swim, play, bathe, wash dishes and wash clothes. It is the water that our businesses, from our restaurants to our brewers and our soda bottlers, need to operate. This water quality issue is about more than the environment – it is about our economy and public health.”