Cape Fear riverkeeper selected for worldwide Waterkeeper Warriors project

Updated: Jun. 13, 2019 at 1:31 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Kemp Burdette's workdays are rarely the same.

Burdette, the Cape Fear riverkeeper since 2010, could be in Raleigh’s state government buildings one, floating on southeastern North Carolina waterways the next and surveying data at the Cape Fear River Watch office in Wilmington the day after that. He might also do all of those things in a single day.

The unpredictable nature of his daily tasks is likely part of the reason Burdette chose his line of work but few things were probably less predictable than celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay voicing Burdette’s story for the Waterkeeper Warriors project.

"I learned recently it was going to be Gordon Ramsay," Burdette said Thursday morning. "It's pretty exciting, you know? He certainly has a very distinctive voice and a well known voice so it's pretty cool. I'm happy with it."

Burdette is one of 20 waterkeepers selected from around the globe by the Waterkeeper Alliance, and photographed by Culture Trip. Photographers were sent to locations on all six continents to help tell each waterkeeper’s story, which was then voiced by celebs like Ramsay, Jon Hamm, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lupita Nyong’o, Woody Harrelson and others.

"I kind of was surprised," Burdette said of being selected. "There's a lot of amazing waterkeepers all around the world, almost 350 waterkeepers. It was a big surprise, a big honor.

"Each story's a little bit different. Each waterkeeper's a little bit different."

Burdette said he spent a day on the water with the Culture Trip photographer, who learned about the issues the Cape Fear River Watch has been working on for the past 10 years.

The Cape Fear River Watch sign is pictured outside the group's office in Wilmington.
The Cape Fear River Watch sign is pictured outside the group's office in Wilmington.(WECT)

With water quality under near constant threat — from individual litterbugs to industrial chemical waste — Burdette hopes people keep one thing in mind.

“We really seem to not be learning that protecting your drinking water supply should be the first thing you think about,” Burdette said. “Whenever there’s a project or an industry or a permit that relates to the river, the first thing you should be thinking about is, how are we going to protect the water quality here, because we drink it every day.”

Click here to see Burdette’s Waterkeeper Warriors story.

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