Westport River Watershed Alliance
March, 2021
Dear Members and Friends,
Spring has arrived with hope and optimism for a better year ahead! The red winged blackbirds are back, as are the osprey. Soon the vernal pools will be clattering with wood frogs and peepers. 

In this time of renewal, we are sending out our membership renewal correspondence as well; and we ask all our members to help continue to sustain WRWA in 2021. Thank you for being a WRWA member!

This past year we have all had to make changes in how we do things, and as a part of that, we have changed our annual art show to an on-line as well as in-person experience. We have had 35 pieces of artwork donated for this year’s show, entitled “Celebrate WOW –The Wonders of the Watershed” - Finding Solace in Art and Nature. It will run daily from April 7 to May 1. The auction will be hosted by 32auctions.com, and viewers will be able to access the link from our web page. Guests will be welcome to view the show at the River Center by making an appointment to visit by emailing outreach@wrwa.com, or calling 508-636-3016. All bidding will be done on-line, and more information will be coming soon.

The traditional River Day celebration will not take place this year, due to health guidelines about large gatherings. But, in celebration of National Rivers Month, we are encouraging our supporters to get outside and get active with a month-long program called "Experience WOW! The Wonders of the Watershed.” We will have an update about this exciting series of June events in upcoming issues of River News.
We are pleased to present our latest video, all about winter birds along the Westport coast, recorded with local birding expert Paul Champlin. Please take the time to watch by clicking here or on the snowy owl image. All of our educational and entertaining videos can be viewed by visiting our web page at: www.westportwatershed.org.

Volunteer Baywatchers Needed for the Westport River
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
Every year we work with the Buzzards Bay Coalition to test the Westport River's ecological health. This is accomplished with the help of volunteers called Baywatchers, who are local residents who love the water and want to do their part to protect it. These "citizen scientists" go out one morning per week in summer to test key aspects of the water's health. Since the program began in 1992, hundreds of local residents have volunteered as Baywatchers, testing the waters of Buzzards Bay and the Westport River.
As part of volunteering, Baywatchers need to:

  • Commit to monitoring at your designated location one morning per week from May to September.
  • Watch a training video to learn how to collect water samples.
  • Follow instructions in the Baywatchers kit to ensure accurate measurements.
  • Be comfortable working on docks, piers, beaches, and boat ramps at the water's edge.
Once properly trained, Baywatchers monitor one site about once a week. The testing takes about 40 minutes, and is done sometime between 6:00-9:00 A.M. from May through September. The site is monitored for basic parameters: dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, and water clarity.
All data collection and analysis is conducted in accordance with a Quality Assurance Project Plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. For more information visit the Buzzards Bay Coalition's website:
Please contact Roberta Carvalho (water@wrwa.com) if you would like to help with testing. We need new volunteers and have 2 sites that need to be sampled (at Cadman's Neck and at Cummings Lane).
WRWA Art Show
Celebrate WOW!
The Wonders of the Watershed
"Finding Solace in
Art & Nature"
Coming in April

Our annual Art Show opens on April 7 and will run through May 1.

This year's show will not be at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery as in previous years (the gallery is currently closed). We will have a live, in-person show at the River Center, with limits on the number of people attending at any time. 

The show and auction will also be on-line. We have enlisted the services of an on-line service that will show the entries and allow people to bid. Also, we plan to publish a program booklet as in past years.

Please call our office to arrange a time to see the show in person, or visit our webpage to see on-line. The bidding will all take place online, and we will be providing a special link to the online auction when it starts.
Westport River Watershed Alliance Offers Scholarship Opportunity for High School Seniors
The Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) is pleased to offer a $1,000 scholarship opportunity for graduating seniors living in the Westport River watershed communities of Fall River, Dartmouth, Freetown, Westport, Little Compton, and Tiverton. 

The award is made possible by the generosity of the late Margot C. Boote, and by Bill Heath in memory of his parents Ruth and Bill Heath. The merit award applications are available on the WRWA website at www.westportwatershed.org or by calling the WRWA office at 508-636-3016. Guidance departments in local high schools also have applications on file. All applications are due into the WRWA office no later than April 1, 2021.

The merit awards give WRWA the opportunity to honor students who have demonstrated interest in protecting the Westport River. WRWA's mission: Working together to protect and preserve the Westport River Watershed now and for future generations.
WRWA 2021 Annual Meeting

WRWA held its 2021 Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 7 at 11 a.m. It was a virtual meeting via Zoom and solely a business meeting, with no featured speaker.

Outgoing board member Bill Gollner was recognized for his many years of contributions. Elizabeth Brinkerhoff was welcomed as a returning board member.

Cameron Carvalho was awarded "Volunteer of the Year" for his many hours of service assisting with water quality testing during the summer of 2020.
WRWA Speaker Series

We had very successful talks with Dr. Dan Gibson in January, all about Horseshoe Crabs, and another with Dr. Greg Skomal in February, all about Great White Sharks. Over one hundred people logged in for the fascinating lectures. We are looking forward to another online lecture with local gardening expert Sarah Lavalley on April 22. Email outreach@wrwa.com if you would like to take part.
Summer Environmental Education
Positions Open

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is seeking two qualified candidates to fill our seasonal, summer internship positions. The positions are 40 hrs./week at a rate of $13.50 hr., from late June until the middle of August (exact starting and ending dates flexible). The interns will work under the supervision of the Education Director, assisting with various projects. WRWA received a generous grant from BayCoast Bank to fund this position with understanding that preference be given to applicants that are enrolled as students at BCC or UMass Dartmouth.
More information on the position and how to apply can be found here:
Call for Photo Entries - 2022 WRWA Calendar Contest
Deadline Extended to June 1

The Watershed Alliance is calling for entries for the annual photo contest for the 2022 calendar. We are looking for landscape and nature photos that show the unique beauty and diversity of the Westport River watershed (i.e. the river, streams, wildlife, plants, etc.). Photos from all seasons are being sought, limit 5 photos per person.

  • Pictures should be submitted as JPG's.   
  • Image size should be no smaller than 10 x 8 inches (pixel dimensions 3000 x 2400).
  • Image resolution should be 300 dpi or greater, file size 1MB or greater.
  • Deadline for image submission is May 1, 2021. 

Each image should be given a title by the artist and the name of the image file should match the image title.  The artist should also include their name, so that they can be credited in the calendar. Image submissions can be emailed to outreach@wrwa.com.

By sending in your pictures you are allowing WRWA to use your pictures to inspire the appreciation and celebration of Westport’s beautiful estuary. WRWA is grateful for the talents of local photographers who share their wonderful photographs annually for the popular calendar, which also features charts of the tides throughout the year.

Our members will choose the winners on-line, as we did so successfully last year.
Creature Feature:
Green Fleece
Codium fragile
By Jenny Burns, Commonwealth Corps Educator

Green Fleece is also commonly known as Dead Man’s Fingers. This is because of its tubular, fingerlike structure and spongy texture. The branches of the seaweed are grown in a Y-shape, representing fingers. These branches grow up to 3ft long and have a diameter of ½ inch wide.

The color of this seaweed can range from dark green to yellow. When washed ashore and dried out by the sun, Green Fleece can turn grayish white. It is found year round in open water, tide pools, and rocky shores. This seaweed can tolerate a wide range of salinity in waters and often grows in clumps covering an area like a carpet. Green Fleece attaches itself to hard surfaces such as mollusks or rocks. Green Fleece requires lots of sunlight to live, depending on a process called photosynthesis which is when a plant converts solar energy into fuel for itself. Although seaweed uses the process of photosynthesis like a plant, it is not a plant.

During photosynthesis, bubbles are produced which makes the seaweed float to the surface of the water, and whatever it is attached to it will be lifted from the ocean floor. This can be dangerous for any mollusks that are attached to Green Fleece. If the mollusks are lifted from the ocean floor, this can cause them to die. This is why Green Fleece is also called the Oyster Thief.

Green Fleece was introduced to North America from Europe in the 1950’s when ships came into the ports. This seaweed was most likely attached to the bottom of the ships and then populations began to spread in North America. Non-native seaweed can be harmful to ecosystems by causing displacement of native seaweed, competing for resources, and shading.

To help native seaweed survive, one thing you can do is learn how to identify different types of seaweed. That can help you check the bottom of your boat or equipment when coming back from water activities. Other things you can do are to buy local seafood, choose native seaweed for aquariums, and do not release aquarium critters into local bodies of water.
Please save us your Lees Receipts!
The Watershed Alliance is pleased to be a Lees Community Partner. Please save up your market receipts and either drop them off at
493 Old County Road, or mail to PO Box 3427, Westport, MA 02790
Thank you!
Thank You to our 2021 Corporate Sponsors