|Dear Alliance Members and Friends:
Deborah Weaver, Executive Director
Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Annual Fund, River Center, and Membership drives. We have met our fundraising goals in each category! We are so grateful for our members and donors who support our important mission to protect our watershed.
Looking ahead, 2018 will be a year of transformation for us: River Center construction and our relocation to a more visible and accessible home right on the River. We expect that having our own building will enable better public outreach, with new, exciting technologies and improved and enhanced programs, as well as new opportunities for volunteers.
We will be updating you regularly on our progress, and we look forward to seeing you in the coming months!
River Center Update
During January, we had the new well successfully drilled behind the River Center building. We are confident the water tests will show no problems and hope to get our building permit within the next few weeks.
Page Construction Company has all the drawings necessary and is ready to get started on the building renovations. We have tried to schedule construction with a minimum of disruption to seasonal activities around the Head of Westport and we hope that all major work is done by early summer.
Depending on the contractor's schedule, it is possible that the new building will be finished and ready for us to move in by the end of the summer of 2018!
We are so grateful to our members, foundations, and donors for the generous support in this effort. Moving to the "heart" of the watershed and on the river, places WRWA in a unique location where we can continue our mission to protect and restore the river - the essence of our work. We will report our progress each month in River News.
Funding for the River Center has been provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Winter 2018 Cockeast Pond Oyster Update
Since 2016, The Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) has been working with UMass Dartmouth's Coastal Systems Program (CSP) on a project funded by a grant from the US EPA Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration. The UMass Dartmouth initiative
is utilizing Cockeast Pond as a natural laboratory to measure how oysters improve water clarity and potentially reduce elevated nitrogen levels which degrade fish and other marine wildlife habitats.
Over the last year WRWA staff and volunteers have put in many hours to assist CSP scientists with multiple research related tasks. Half a million oysters have been in the water since August, and the scientists are seeing good survival and growth. For a more detailed project history visit the WRWA website:
|Roberta Carvalho takes oyster data from UMass Scientist Alan Austin.
Background, Paul Mancuso, UMass Scientist.
To date, all the year-one objectives for the project have been achieved as originally planned. In December WRWA helped with the last oyster sorting for the year, where WRWA provided field support to help measure, sort, and determine survival rates. The oyster cages were lowered to a depth just off the sediment surface in the pond to prevent the oysters being frozen by icy pond waters and keep gear from being damaged. Over the winter, the project team will be considering the merits of expanding the oyster experiment by including another 500,000 oysters to the previous deployment, bringing the entire experiment up to 1 million oysters.
In the early spring, WRWA will work with the CSP team to refloat the cages and begin the sorting, counting, measuring and water quality measurements again. The work will culminate after four years
of monitoring. As oysters in Cockeast Pond reach maturity, various options will be considered for their location. They could be transferred with the help of the Westport Marine Services Director to an area of the East Branch that has previously supported oysters as a mechanism for re-establishing that natural population. Or, if the oysters have been shown to significantly improve water quality, stakeholders may consider leaving them in place to maintain or continue to improve the health of the pond.
Jeremy Grantham to be Guest Speaker
at WRWA Annual Meeting March 4
Please join us for our
Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at the Bittersweet Restaurant, 438 Main Road, Westport. Brunch begins at 11:15, followed by our business meeting at noon.
Renowned environmentalist , investor and philanthropist Jeremy Grantham will be our guest for the speaking program, immediately following the short business meeting. His talk is entitled, "Race of Our Lives: Trying to Live Successfully with Climate Change."
There is a $25 fee for brunch, to be paid in advance or at the door. Please RSVP on line, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling our office at 508-636-3016 so that we can give the restaurant a head count for brunch. The speaking program is free.
Mr. Grantham co-founded
Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo (
GMO) in 1977 and is a member of GMO's Asset Allocation team, serving as the firm's chief investment strategist. Prior to GMO's founding, Mr. Grantham was co-founder of Batterymarch Financial Management in 1969 where he recommended commercial indexing in 1971, one of several claims to being first. He began his investment career as an economist with Royal Dutch Shell. He is a member of the GMO Board of Directors and has also served on the investment boards of several non-profit organizations. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Sheffield (U.K.) and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Mr. Grantham also holds honorary degrees from the New School, University of Sheffield (New York) and Imperial College London and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Six Turkey Vultures Saved From Frigid Temperatures
In early January, The State Division of Wildlife and Fisheries received calls from Westport, reporting turkey vultures with frozen wings and limbs, unable to fly or feed themselves.
With the help of Cape Wildlife Services, they rescued the birds, who certainly would have died from the cold during our recent frigid weather period.
Wildlife and Fisheries personnel took care of three of the birds, with the others going to Massachusetts Raptor Center and Cape Wildlife Center, to be nurtured back to health.
WRWA Education Director Shelli Costa arranged for the birds to be released at the Macomber School, so that students could watch them return to their familiar hunting grounds.
Pictured above: Olivia Lagrow and Marla Isaac from Massachusetts Raptor Center release six Turkey Vultures with the help of Zak Mertz from Cape Wildlife Center at Macomber School in January. Photo courtesy of Richard Dionne, East Bay Newspapers.
Registration is Open for WRWA's Summer Coastal Ecology Program
Our summer programs offer children the opportunity to learn science, make friends, and build self-confidence, all while having fun in a relaxed, safe environment.
*Monday- Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
*Weeks of July 9-13 & July 23-27
Children discover wildlife in our coastal waters, create eco-crafts, learn about coastal habitats, hike the dunes, and enjoy games on the beach. The program fee is $170 for WRWA members, $210 for non-members.
- Ages 9-11.
*Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
*Weeks of July 16-20
and August 6-10.
Head out on WRWA's Skiff Water Watcher to explore the Westport River by boat, tow a plankton net, pull up crab posts and observe osprey nests. The cost is $190 for members and $230 for non-members.
- Ages 12-16.
*Monday - Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
*Week of July 30 - August 3.
Participants learn about the ecology of the Westport River, visit coastal habitats and spend three days paddling on the Westport River, led by certified instructors from Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures. The fee is $360 for members and $400 for non-members and includes all equipment and instruction.
- Ages 3 - 6 (accompanied by adult). Each session will feature an hour at the beach during which participants will listen for shore birds, use nets to catch fish and crabs and explore the sand for hidden creatures. Hands-on investigations, games and crafts will help children learn about animals at the beach.
*Tuesday, 8/14, Wednesday 8/15, Thursday 8/16
Cost: $10 members, $12 Non-members.
Register online at:
or call 508-636-3016.
We Hope You Have Been Taking Pictures
Our annual photo contest for the WRWA 2019 Photo Calendar won't be officially open for submissions until May, but we will be seeking photographs of Westport's scenic beauty and wildlife from all the seasons. Please keep it in mind as you enjoy the transition from winter to spring, and if possible, snap a few photos!
Last year we received over 75 beautiful entries, which were narrowed down to the thirteen finalists chosen by our independent judges.
We still have a few 2018 calendars left, if you have not gotten yours yet. All calendars feature "tide lines," which indicate the times and relative heights of high and low tides throughout the year. Call or stop by our office to purchase one while they last.
Announcing Summer Concert Artists
Lees Receipts Doubled in January
All purchases made at Lees Market during January will be doubled for Community Partner members. 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!
Do you own a local business?
Consider becoming a WRWA Sponsor
WRWA offers many levels of annual sponsorship which can benefit your business while supporting your local environmental organization.
We will be happy to send you a package outlining the various options, which range from single event sponsorship like River Day and our Summer Concert, to Corporate Sponsorship for year-round visibility.