Here's what's happening at WRWA this month

Membership Drive Reminder

Dear Members and Friends: 
I hope that we can count on you renewing your membership in the Westport River Watershed Alliance! If you have already done so, we thank you very much. If you haven't yet, please don't forget to renew. Your WRWA membership is very important and is a direct investment in protecting the Westport River.

Our members are the backbone of the organization, and without you, we could not do all that we do every year. This letter is a reminder that your membership renewal is now due.

Summer is a busy time for our staff. Your support helps keep our water monitoring program going, testing the River and streams for bacteria pollution. This data, which is updated every week, lets you know where it is safe to swim, and is also provided to the State. Our educators bring dozens of young students out into the beautiful watershed environment throughout the summer, helping them learn about the conditions that support the great variety of living creatures in our estuary.

We hope you will join us for any/all of these upcoming activities:

Our third Summer Concert on July 14this much anticipated with Jonathan Edwards & Jon Pousette-Dart at the Westport Rivers Vineyard. Tickets are $40/member, $50 for general public. Co-produced by the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. Bring your sunglasses and your picnic or enjoy the Food Truck's delicious global cuisine.
Summer Gala is August 11th Celebrate with us at Frog Hollow Farm. The Gala, as always, is the highlight of the summer months-a time to meet friends, enjoy fabulous savories and specialties by Wilma's Catering, and soak in the beautiful Westport scenery. Tickets are $100 for members, $120 for all others.
Get out on the water- Enjoy the most beautiful natural resource in the watershed.
Share the love- Send a child or grandchild to one of our summer education programs.

Working together, we make a difference. Your membership is vital to our ongoing work, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. I am eager to see you this summer to thank you for your generosity and support in person. Best wishes for a marvelous summer season.
Warmest regards,

Deborah Weaver
Executive Director

WRWA River Day Coming on June 9
Winners of 2019 River Day Poster Contest
Congratulations to the winners for this year's River Day Poster contest. Students from grades 1-4 at the Macomber School and the Westport Elementary School submitted drawings illustrating the theme, "River Families." Over 200 art works were submitted, making the task of choosing the winner from many worthy entries a challenge. The winning art work is displayed on the poster for River Day, which is Saturday, June 9th at the Head of Westport.
This year's overall winner is fourth grader Stephanie Boza, whose colorful depiction of families of all kinds enjoying life on the River, was the judges' favorite. The other ribbon winners, listed for each grade level, are as follows:
Grade 1
1. Jake DeFusco 
This year's contest winner is Westport Elementary School
Fourth Grader Stephanie Boza
2. Juliana Merchant 
3. Michael Tester 
Grade 2
1. Bella Calvao
2. Noah James 
3. Tyler Felizberto 
Grade 3
1. Keira Camara
2. Kathryn Gifford
3. Amerie Sanon
Grade 4

1. Stephanie Boza *
2. Anna Herliczek
3. Grace Garrity
"The Watershed Alliance gives big thanks to art teachers Chantal Allen and Alicia McGuire for their artistic guidance and helpfulness in having the students create the art work. And special thanks go to all the children for their time and talent," said WRWA Executive Director Deborah Weaver.
All of the entries are on display at Lees Market May 23 to June 13.  The twelve winners will be invited on stage at noon on River Day to receive recognition and awards.
This Year's River Day will be on Saturday, June 9
This year's popular River Day will take place on Saturday, June 9th, at the Town Landing at the historic Head of Westport, at the intersection of Drift Road and Old County Road. This event is free and open to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featured activities include: live music, on- going children's games, fish tee-shirt printing, osprey platform construction, wee boat racing, face painting, a live raptor show, environmental exhibits, and a mini farmers market. Featured musicians include Westport's well-known folk band The Spindle Rock River Rats. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
For ease of parking and traffic safety, a free shuttle service will be provided by Whaling City Transit, from the Middle School parking lot on Old County Road. It will make frequent trips to and from the Head throughout the day.

June is National Rivers Month, and WRWA is holding a special Membership Drive during the month. This is a great time to renew membership, or join, with half-priced memberships offered to new members on River Day.
We are grateful to our many sponsors and to the Westport Cultural Council  for their support of this annual community event.  
WRWA to work with Renowned Scientists to
Understand Marsh Loss in the Westport River

 Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
Salt marshes are an ecologically important habitat along the New England coastline. They filter out pollution, provide habitat for wildlife, and protect homes from flooding. In addition, more than half of commercial fish species on the East Coast use salt marshes for some part of their lives. Westport River marshes have declined by nearly 50% during the past 80 years. A recent study suggests that this rate of decline has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. However, the underlying cause of this accelerated loss is not fully understood. A number of changes along the Westport River, including nitrogen pollution, sea level rise, dredging projects, coastal development, erosion from large storms, and grazing from crabs, are all potential drivers of marsh loss.
To better understand the mechanisms driving the Westport River marsh loss we are working with Principle Investigators: Dr. Mark D. Bertness - Brown University, Dr. Patrick J. Ewanchuk - Providence College, and Dr. Catherine M. Matassa - University of Connecticut to conduct a series of descriptive and manipulative experiments in both branches of the River, which are experiencing different rates of vegetation loss. These experiments are designed to research the mechanism(s) of marsh loss, so that sound conservation and management strategies can be implemented.
To begin the project, we must get permissions granted from the Board of Selectmen and the Conservation Commission. Stay tuned for updates, we plan to begin the research in June.


From left, Dr. Patrick Ewanchuk of Providence College, Dr. Catherine Matassa of UCONN, Dr. Mark Bertness of Brown University, Roberta Carvalho WRWA Science Director.  Foreground, Deborah Weaver WRWA Executive Director, and Mike Sullivan.

Dr. Mark Bertness inspecting a salt marsh



100 volunteers turn out for annual spring beach clean up

Over 100 people turned out for our annual spring beach clean up on May 5.  These enthusiastic helpers scoured the beach and adjacent areas for bottles, cans, plastic and other debris.  Organized groups of volunteers came from Westport High School (pictured above), Dartmouth High School and the local Daisies Girl Scout troop.


It was a beautiful day, and we managed to collect many bags of trash.  This year's most unusual item was half of a blue plastic Adirondack chair.


WRWA conducts two or three beach clean up events each year.  The next one will be our Coastsweep event in September.










Related Story:


WHS Senior Zoe Lopes Recruits 20 Students for Beach Clean-Up
by Angie Hilsman
Congratulations to Westport High senior Zoe Lopes, who recruited nearly 20 students to help out at WRWA's spring beach cleanup.  The volunteer effort was part of Lopes' senior research project on marine debris. Marine debris includes any trash that ends up in the waterways, including land-based litter, lost shipping containers, and boating equipment.
As a town native, Lopes said she's always been passionate about ocean habitats, but after watching a viral video of a straw being removed from a sea turtle's nose, she wanted to learn more about human impact on the oceans.  "It's scary to watch," she said about the video. "We live so close to the water. I thought that [the beach cleanup] would be great community action."
Lopes responded with a homemade flyer for the beach cleanup. She posted it around school, as well as on her Facebook and Twitter accounts. She attracted 18 students to the event. Overall, more than 100 volunteers helped clean Town Beach and East Beach that day.  "[Plastic] affects so many levels of the environment. It's eye-opening," she said.
In fact, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in our oceans, according to a 2015 National Geographic article . Plastic microfibers litter the ocean, and 269,000 tons of plastic float on its surface, according to the same article. The plastics threaten sea creatures and shorebirds, can jam up boats, and soil beaches, and can pose human health risks. Straws are the fifth most prevalent item collected off shores, according to the Ocean Conservancy. They are topped by cigarette butts, plastic bottles, food wrappers, and plastic bottle caps.
Lopes' semester-long research project is a requirement, she said. It includes a research paper and community project. Peers' topics included dental care, opioids, and teachers' salaries, she said.
Lopes will study nursing at Dean College next fall.

Westport High School Students Ashlie Thatcher and Zoe Lopes helped collect trash and debris at WRWA's recent beach clean up at the Westport Town Beach.

 Westport 5th Graders Learn about Coastal Ecology
Lees Market Helps Out With Dune Grass Restoration
Students from Westport Elementary School enjoyed a day of outdoor learning at Cherry and Webb Beach this spring - exploring the dunes, discovering dune plants, measuring microclimates and restoring the dunes by planting 1,000 American beach grass stems. Lees Market staff donated their time to assist WRWA at leading stations, as part of Lees' programs that give back to the community.
As part of the field study, the 5th grade students learned about American beach grass which is an integral part of the dune habitat. Beach grass is able to stand up to the dry, salty and windy conditions of the dunes and even thrives in hot, un-shaded areas. The roots of the beach grass catch and hold sand which stabilizes the dunes. While the grass can survive in extreme weather conditions, the students learned how it can be destroyed by walking directly on it. Once the American beach grass starts to die off, the stability of the dune is threatened creating blowouts (open areas of sand that are prone to erosion).
After planting beach grass stems, students learned about the plants and animals that live in the dunes and experienced a bog where carnivorous pitcher plants reside. Finally students compared the microclimates found in different locations and learned how the dunes are formed. As the students go through three stations, they learn how the dunes protect us from ocean storms every year and why it is important to protect the plants and grasses that occupy them.
This field study is a part of the Watershed Education Program. Each year students from Pre-K to High School learn about different aspects of their watershed. The Westport River Watershed Alliance provides the program as a complement to the science curriculum that each grade is covering for the year. It provides a hands-on way for students to not only learn science, but also about the habitats that are in their own backyards.
5th Graders show off their "Beachcomber" T-shirts.
WRWA's mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed which encompasses six towns: Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown, and Westport in Massachusetts, and Little Compton and Tiverton in Rhode Island. WRWA accomplishes its goal of protecting the watershed through education, advocacy, and community outreach.   For further information on WRWA, please contact the office staff at (508) 636-3016 or visit .

Boutique Fitness will be presenting a series of 45-minute total body workout classes in June, with half of the proceeds benefiting the Westport River Watershed Alliance.
Classes will take place every Wednesday in June at the Bittersweet Farm, starting promptly at 5:30 p.m.
Please bring a yoga mat and your water bottle.
Suggested class donation is a $10 minimum.
Bittersweet Farm is at 438 Main Road, Westport, MA.
Get Your Tickets Now for
Jonathan Edwards and Pousette-Dart Band
WRWA Summer Concert at the Vineyard

The Westport River Watershed Alliance will host
Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards and the Jon Pousette-Dart Band on July 14, at our third annual Summer Concert at Westport Rivers Vineyard. The concert is co-presented by the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River.

Edwards, who came to fame in the 1970's with his top 40 hit, "Sunshine," and "Shanty," everyone's favorite ode to putting a good buzz on, has maintained a busy performance schedule, still projecting the warmth, energy and musical brilliance for which he is known. Four decades into a stellar career of uncompromising musical integrity, Jonathan simply delivers, night after night - songs of passion, songs of insight, songs of humor, all rendered in that pure and powerful tenor which, like fine wine, has only grown sweeter with age.

The Pousette-Dart
Jon Pousette-Dart
Band, led by Jon Pousette-Dart, carved a place in the landscape of American music in the 1970's. They were a mainstay of album radio, a favorite on the college circuit, and became one of the busiest touring groups in the US working with such acts as The Byrds, Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat, The Eagles, James Taylor,
The J. Geils Band, Eddie Money, Manfred Mann,
Jonathan Edwards, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Emmylou Harris, Gary Wright, Robert Palmer, Randy Newman, Journey, Billy Joel, and NRBQ. They are best remembered from that era for their hit songs, "County Line," and "Amnesia." 

The summer concerts sold out the past two years, so advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Guests always enjoy a first-rate show with professional stage and sound in an intimate and relaxed setting, and have the option of bringing a lawn chair and/or blanket, or to sit in the row seating that will be provided. The sloping lawn of the vineyard provides a great view for everyone.

Beer and wine will be on sale, and food trucks will be selling hot food. Guests may bring food in to the concert, but no alcohol can be brought in.
The show is sponsored by Dewey, Schmid and Kearns Architects of Concord, MA, Westport Rivers Vineyard, Buzzards Bay Brewing, Lees Oil Service, and Ralco Electric.
Tickets are on sale on line at and . Member price $40, non-members $50. Small additional charge for on-line sales. Gates open at 5:00 pm on Saturday. Rain date Sunday, July 15.
Phone orders: 508-636-3016. Westport Rivers is located at 417 Hix Bridge Road. Car pooling is encouraged and appreciated.

Summer Gala Coming Up August 11
Westport, MA -- The Westport River Watershed Alliance will hold its annual Summer Gala on Saturday, August 11th, from 5-8 p.m. at the Frog Hollow Farm on Drift Road, overlooking the East Branch of the Westport River.
There will be live music by Joe Mulholland Trio, an open bar, delicious food, as well as a silent auction of valuable and unique items. Auction items can be viewed in advance at . Tickets are $100 for members, $120 at the door and for non-members.
Don't miss Westport's best party! Invitations will go out next week, and tickets are available online at the WRWA web page, or call WRWA at 508-636-3016 to reserve. This is WRWA's most important fund-raiser of the year, and support helps fund important science and education initiatives.
Since 1976, the Watershed Alliance mission has been to restore, protect, celebrate and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed.
This year's Summer Gala will be held at the beautiful Frog Hollow Farm on the East Branch.

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is seeking two qualified
candidates to fill our Commonwealth Corps Positions  
The Westport River Watershed Alliance has been chosen to be one of 17 Commonwealth Corps Host Site Partners again this year. Administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), the Commonwealth Corps engages Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service and capacity building to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism.

WRWA is seeking two full-time Commonwealth Corps service members as Environmental Educators, to deliver Watershed Education Programs to children in grades PreK-12, and to launch additional outreach programs.  Commonwealth Corps members with the Westport River Watershed Alliance will serve 10.5 months in a full-time capacity and receive a bi-weekly stipend. The applicants should be a Massachusetts resident and have a desire to put their talents and ideas to use in the service of their community and the Commonwealth.
For the past three years Commonwealth Corps members have helped WRWA strengthen and expand its Watershed Education Program. The program teaches more than 2,000 local students about the importance of keeping the Westport River clean, and the healthy interrelationship of our waters, soils, plants, animals, and people. Service members also recruit high school volunteers and encourage family involvement in outreach programs.

Since its inception, more than 950 Commonwealth Corps members have served in the program throughout the state, providing over 600,000 hours of service in areas such as community development, health services, benefits screenings, afterschool or summer programs, and volunteer recruitment and management, and directly benefiting more than 595,000 students, families, and other clients.

The Commonwealth Corps members will serve for 10.5 months in a full-time capacity from August 15, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), established in 1991, is a private nonprofit that serves as the state commission on community service and volunteerism, and supports programs like AmeriCorps and Commonwealth Corps that incorporate service and volunteerism as effective strategies to address the pressing needs in the Commonwealth.
For more information, or to apply for the position, please visit WRWA's website- or contactShelli Costa, Education Director, Westport River Watershed Alliance at .

Photo Contest Winners Announced  

We have our winning photos for the 2019 Photo Calendar Contest!  As always, we received many more excellent photographs than we can fit into one calendar, so the choices were difficult.  Thank you to everyone who sent in entries.
Winners were chosen by Phil Devitt, Phil Burling and Wendy Goldberg. Individual photographers were limited to two winning photos.  Judges did not know the names of the photographers as they were selecting winners.

January:  Good Morning Moon  by Greg Stone
February:  River View Walk by Greg Stone
March:  Ominous Skies by Tim Agnew
April:  Fog On The West Branch by Rich Castenson
May:  Lookouts of the West Branch  by Joanne Humphrey
June:   Fish, It's Not Just For Dinner Anymore  by Rich Couse
July:  Busy Head of Westport by Brianna McAvoy  
August:  Morning Fog by Leslie Scanlan
September:  Fall at Forge Pond  by Joanne Humphrey
October:  Autumn Up East  by Mark Goulding
November:   Late Fall Sunset  by Lucy Chase 
December:  Winter View of the Point  by Rick Eustis
Cover Photo:   West Branch Serenity by Rich Castenson

The calendars will be printed over the summer, and will be available around September 1st.  Thanks again to everyone who participated in the contest, and we hope you will keep shooting!

2018 Calendar Cover Photo
  Creature Feature ♦ American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)
By: Victoria Quennessen
American eels are mysterious fish that first appear in the Westport River around mid-October as "glass eels" that are less than a year old. Whether or not we can see these transparent creatures, they live in rivers and estuaries all along the Atlantic coast.These native fish develop color as they age, turning into yellow-green juveniles as they travel upriver. As adults, they darken to brown with a pale belly, but continue their journey toward freshwater.

Some American eels will travel toward freshwater sources for up to 25 years before undergoing another transformation. When the eels are ready to mate, their bodies get darker, their eyes bigger, they accumulate fat and thicker skin, and stop eating. Following cues from the stars, the moon, the Earth's magnetic field, a heightened homing ability, or some unknown combination, the eels turn toward the sea. Every American eel in the world will head toward the Sargasso Sea, a section of the North Atlantic Ocean, to spawn. This body of water is important for other animals too; whales migrate through it, and juvenile sea turtles ride in its current for years before returning to the coast.

Unfortunately, these fish are endangered due to human impacts. Climate change warms the water, reducing the amount of oxygen that eels depend on to breathe. While eels move around obstacles more easily than other fish because of their long, slippery bodies, man-made barriers like dams keep eels from traveling upriver. If you want to help American eels, keep their home clean by putting your trash in disposal bins. You can also reduce the impacts of climate change by carrying reusable shopping bags and water bottles, recycling, and conserving water and electricity at home and in school.


Summer Concert tickets on sale now!



Save Us Your Lees Receipts

WRWA is pleased to be a recipient of Lees Market Community Partners program. Please save us your Lees receipts! You can drop them off at our office at
1151 Main Road, or mail to
Westport River Watershed Alliance
PO Box 3427
Westport, MA   02790.

Thank you, Lees Market! 

Thank you to our corporate sponsors
We are grateful to our corporate sponsors for their annual support of WRWA.  Please take a moment to view our list of sponsors below, and note that each logo is an active link to their individual websites.

Corporate Sponsors

Westport River Watershed Alliance | 508-636-3016 |

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