Sound Rivers hires new Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Pamlico and Tar rivers will have a new advocate in Riverkeeper Forrest English.

English takes over the position from now-Sound Rivers Executive Director Heather Deck.

“After an extensive nationwide search, I’m extremely pleased to have Forrest join the Sound Rivers team,” Deck said.  “With more than 10 years of experience in advocating for the protection of our water resources, Forrest brings a wealth of knowledge that will support our local community’s efforts to protect the Tar-Pamlico River.”

English has a wide range of experience — water quality technician, wildlife surveyor, deckhand on commercial fishing boats and heavy equipment operator on watershed restoration projects — and has a passion for the environment. He comes to the Pamlico-Tar from his role as riverkeeper for the Klamath and Rogue rivers in Oregon, but he is no stranger to North Carolina, having done renewable energy work in the state, according to Deck.

ENGLISH: English comes to the East Coast after serving as riverkeeper on the Klamath and Rogue rivers in Oregon.

“I was looking to explore some new issues and see some new watersheds and ecosystems,” English said about his move to the East Coast. “I’d been to North Carolina before, and it seems like a place I already knew and I’d be happy coming back to. … Here, we’re focused more on nutrients — it’s just different ecosystems types,” he said. “I’m here to pitch in and get water quality improving and make sure that we’ve got fish and critters all happy here.”

On the west coast, English said he dealt with a lot of policy and explored legal avenues, mostly in relation to mining and forestry issues. He played key roles in coalition efforts that have, for more than a decade, staved off a massive gas pipeline and fossil fuel export terminal that would cross hundreds of waterways in Oregon, as well as helped secure protections for native fish from gold mining, according to a Sound Rivers press release.

“His skills certainly translate to positions here,” Deck said.

Deck said riverkeepers across the nation are a very close-knit group that shares ideas, which is how English came to Sound Rivers’ attention. Though transitioning out of the role of riverkeeper, she said she’ll continue to get out on the water.

“It’s important to be out and get to see the programmatic work you’re doing in person and remind yourself why you do the job you do,” Deck said.

English will be working out of Sound Rivers Washington office and can be reached by email at or by phone at 252-946-7211.