Here's what's happening at WRWA this month
WRWA River Day Was Fun For Everyone
This year's River Day had perfect weather and a large crowd, who enjoyed all the activities, the music and the great food! Thanks to everyone who sponsored, attended and volunteered for our traditional River Day festival at the Head of Westport.  
Deborah Weaver congratulates the elementary student winners of the River Day poster contest, along with Selectwoman Shana Shufelt.
 "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.

This year's River Day was held on Saturday, June 9th, at the Town Landing at the historic Head of Westport.  Featured activities included: live music, children's games, fish tee-shirt printing, osprey platform construction, Native American story telling, wee boat racing, face painting, a live raptor show, environmental exhibits, and a mini farmers market. Music was by Westport's well-known folk band The Spindle Rock River Rats.

We are grateful to our many sponsors and to the Westport Cultural Council  for their support of this annual community event.  

Thank you to Whaling City Transit, for providing the free shuttle service all day from the old Middle School parking area to the Head of Westport.
WRWA Begins 2018 Westport River Salt Marsh Study
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director

This Salt Marsh Study project is being done in coordination with:
-Patrick J. Ewanchuk - Associate Professor of Biology, Providence College. Ph.D., Brown University.
-Catherine M. Matassa - Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut. PhD Ecology,    Evolution, and Marine Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
-Mark D. Bertness - Robert P. Brown Professor of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University. Ph.D. (1979) evolutionary ecology, University of Maryland.

We have been seeing a rapid decrease in the health of our salt marshes. Westport River marshes have declined by nearly 50% during the past 80 years; and, 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. The overarching goal of our proposed research is to identify the mechanistic drivers of marsh loss in the Westport River Watershed.
To achieve this goal, we will conduct a series of experiments in both branches of the Westport River, which are experiencing different rates of vegetation loss. These experiments are designed to identify the underlying mechanism(s) of marsh loss so that sound conservation and management strategies can be implemented.
Study Sites - The experiments will be conducted at multiple sites along both branches of the Westport River. (see illustration)
Experiment 1: Nutrient-limitation experiments: availability or uptake

Cordgrass is a predominant plant growing in the marshes, and its roots help to keep the marsh intact. To determine the effect of nutrient availability and uptake on cordgrass production, scientists set up 15 experimental plots at each location. Each spot is identified using low-profile flag markers. The nutrient addition treatment will be applied by inserting nutrient delivery tubes in the sediments. Tubes are filled with fertilizer (Osmocote) to effectively elevate local nutrient levels. While the nutrient treatments tests whether or not environmental nutrient concentrations limit plant growth, the aeration treatments tests whether or not soil compaction is limiting nutrient uptake by the roots.
Cordgrass shoot density and height will be monitored every other week over the course of the field season in all plots. At the end of the experiment, we will collect and sample 2 cores*, then sort, dry, and weigh above-ground and below-ground plant biomass and measure sediment characteristics (density, porosity, organic content). Comparing data from between experimental treatments will allow us to quantify the degree and nature (availability or uptake) of nutrient limitation within each site, along each branch of the river, and between the two branches. Because nutrients vary across the rivers, some of these effects may be important in one area but not another.

* cores are 6" deep samples, taken by driving hollow tubes into the marsh and withdrawing the material.
Experiment 2: Common source cordgrass transplants to test local adaptation
Given the naturally occurring environmental variation in nutrients and soil characteristics within the River, differences in plant growth in Experiment 1 may also stem from local adaptation. For example, nutrient-limited plants may develop different root structures to better absorb nutrients from the sediment. To test for the effects of local adaptation to environmental conditions, we will conduct a common-source
transplant experiment. Cores of cordgrass containing one or two shoots will be collected from a single marsh area outside of the Westport River and transplanted to plots in both branches of the River.
Transplants and their nearest neighbor, which will be cored and placed back into its original location, will be monitored for survivorship, shoot density, and shoot height. In the fall, above- and below-ground biomass will be sorted dried, measured, and weighed.

Experiment 3: Common garden test for sediment effects
Scientists will also conduct a greenhouse experiment to investigate seedling survivorship and growth on sediments from both branches of the river. This will examine the influence of any sediment differences between river branches on plant growth.
Additional Research:
To fully understand the physical differences between the sites these measurements will be done on the sites:
Sediment composition (organic content vs. sand)
-Sediment hardness, porosity
-Porewater oxygen and nutrient concentrations
-Flow environment using multiple methods (flow blocks and current meter readings)
Historical Contextual Data
The scientists will also investigate the historical changes in coastal land development, shoreline hardening, and channel dredging along both branches of the Westport River using archived aerial photographs.   These reconstructions will pay particular attention to spatial and temporal patterns and correlations among shoreline development, marsh loss and shoreline change.

You Can Help
WRWA needs to raise $20,000 to complete this project. Research like this cannot be done without people like you who care about the environment and are willing to invest in its health of our River, marshes, and hometown habitat. Thank you for your stewardship.

Jonathan Edwards and Pousette-Dart Band
2018 Summer Concert at the Vineyard

Thank you to our members and friends for the enthusiasm for this year's concert at Westport Rivers Vineyard, presented with the Narrows Center for the Arts. We have reached the maximum number of tickets permitted for this event.

Is the River Clean Enough for Swimming?
For Answers Check Our Website Weekly  
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
WRWA has been sampling the River to test for fecal coliform bacteria since 1991; monitoring for the presence of bacteria pollution. Bacteria do not generally damage the ecosystem, but can make people sick when they eat tainted seafood, or  swim in contaminated water. They are also a marker to identify the possible presence of other pathogens that come from the same fecal sources. Bacteria in the River comes from human wastewater and domestic and wild animal waste  You can visit our website weekly to see water testing results for the Westport River. Go to:  
Water quality testing results for local public beaches can be found on the state's website:
The laboratory tests are done by the City of New Bedford Health Department Lab. WRWA's collection and analysis of samples has been utilized by the town and state agencies to document
bacterial contamination in the river. WRWA's data is not used to open and close shellfish areas, this sampling is done by the 
State Division of Marine Fisheries .

Many of the most common pollutants come from one of two places: humans and animals. Human fecal matter in water bodies constitutes the greatest public health threat because humans are reservoirs for many bacteria, parasites, and viruses that are dangerous to other humans and can cause a variety of illnesses. Bacteria/pathogen pollution is transported to the river primarily by rainfall and resultant runoff. The amount, duration, intensity, and time span between rain events are factors that
influence fecal coliform levels in the river. 
Summer is back-and the boat is back in the River!
Roberta Carvalho and volunteers conduct weekly water
testing to monitor River health and cleanliness.
WRWA Receives Conservation Commendation
From Garden Club of Buzzards Bay

The Garden Club of Buzzards Bay and the Garden Club of America presented the Westport River Watershed Alliance with their Club Conservation Commendation, "In recognition of WRWA's efforts to promote education and advocacy for environmental issues and to celebrate the beautiful Buzzards Bay Watershed."

The award, received by WRWA Director Deborah Weaver and Education Director Shelli Costa on June 21,  specifically recognizes the Dune Grass Restoration at the Cherry and Webb Conservation Area, a program that Shelli has conducted over the last fifteen years with students from Westport Middle School.  Over that time period, more than 20,000 plants have been transplanted, resulting in stabilization of the sand dunes.

Westport Fifth Grade Students planting dune grass this past spring


Getting Ready to Start! Supporters and friends attended WRWA's recent groundbreaking event at the Head of Westport. Pictured, from left: WRWA Board President Tom Schmitt,
State Senator Mike Rodrigues, WRWA Development Director Gay Gillespie, WRWA Vice President and Project Manager Charley Appleton, WRWA Executive Director Deborah Weaver, Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and BayCoast Bank CEO Nick Christ.

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 featuring Stan Strickland, 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 have gone out, 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 .

  Creature Feature    Little Brown Bat       (Myotis lucifugus
By: Angie Hilsman
Throughout June and July, female bats are nursing pups that can't yet fly. Warm indoor temperatures help the babies to grow more quickly, so it's not uncommon to find bats in your attic during summer months. Little Brown Bats are one local bat species you may find in these colonies.

The Little Brown Bat is one of nine bat species in Massachusetts, and they all survive on a healthy diet of insects. The Little Brown Bat can eat up to 600 mosquitos in an hour. Little Brown Bats also eat bugs that target crops, so they're an important ally for farmers.

Bats are the only flying mammals on earth. Little Brown Bats can fly up to 20 miles per hour. Bats are also nocturnal, meaning they come out at night. Bats can see almost as well as humans can, but to navigate in the dark, they rely on echolocation. That means they send out high-pitched shouts, and use the echoes that bounce back to find food and avoid hitting structures. The shouts are too high for humans to hear. Other animals that use echolocation include dolphins, some whales, and shrews.

Bats are protected in Massachusetts, especially during their nursing and hibernating seasons. Around April and May, females will give birth to one pup and raise it in the roost. A roost is a place where bats gather to rest, such as caves, houses, and trees. Some roosts will have up to 1,000 individual bats. Babies will learn to fly, and leave the roost between August and mid-October.

Within the past 10 years, however, a fungus has threatened bats and caused huge population declines. Called White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), the white fungus infects the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats. WNS has killed millions of bats across the country, and scientists still don't know how to stop it.

If you find bats living in your home this summer, wait until September to evict them. It will not only ensure their survival, but prevent young bats from being trapped. Massachusetts requires non-lethal approaches to evicting bats; find more info at . If you find colonies of 10 bats or more, please report it to the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife so experts can continue studying the causes and effects of WNS.

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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