Here's what's happening at WRWA this month
2018 Annual Fund Drive Underway
Please contribute!

For more than 42 years the WRWA has championed our River's health and that of the 100 square mile watershed that surrounds it. This has been our sole focus for all these years. We ask you to support our Annual Fund Drive so we can continue this important work. This magnificent but fragile estuary is a key element of Westport's character, one that fosters a broad array of recreational activity, drives our local economy and enriches our lives.  Whether visiting or living here, you know the pleasures of boating, swimming, walking and observing nature, and can appreciate the fragility of our environment.

Why give to the WRWA?

To Protect Water Quality WRWA's core mission is to protect and improve the River's quality.  Clean
water supports a habitat that is home to many aquatic species and plants that flourish here.

To Promote Stewardship:  The WRWA shows how by making simple changes in behavior we can improve River quality and reverse its degradation.

To Educate our Youth:  WRWA's award-winning programs help children appreciate the Watershed and how we humans affect its health.  They will inherit this treasure; they are its next stewards.  We are committed to assuring that they appreciate this sense of wonder for our River and the natural world.

To Spread the Word:  The WRWA encourages everyone to enjoy the River so they, too, will be inspired by its beauty and join in our effort to protect and preserve it for future generations.

The WRWA is the "voice of the river"- monitoring its health, leading restoration efforts, encouraging children to love the natural world, and collaborating with government leaders to ensure that sound science guides decisions made about watershed protection. We ask for your support so we may continue this important work.

Thank you for contributing. We really appreciate your support.
Deborah Weaver, Executive Director
  Update on WRWA Science Projects
Cockeast Pond Oyster Experiment with UMASS's Coastal Systems Program

  The Salt Marsh Study
with Researchers from Brown, Providence College and UCONN.
by Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
We've been working with the Coastal Systems Program (CSP) UMass Dartmouth (SMAST) on a project funded by a grant from the US EPA Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration ( The UMass Dartmouth initiative, led by Dr. Brian Howes and Dr. Roland Samimy at SMAST's Coastal Systems Program, is utilizing the Westport River and Cockeast Pond as a natural laboratory to measure how oysters improve water clarity and potentially reduce elevated nitrogen levels which destroy fish and other marine wildlife habitats.
This summer 500,000 oysters were added to the initial 500,000 oysters put in the pond in 2017. SMAST scientists have been checking on the oysters, they seem to be growing slowly, surviving well, and taking up nitrogen. With the winter fast approaching, all the sets of racks and bags will be sunk in deeper water in the pond so the oysters will not freeze. In the spring they will be raised higher in the water column and measurements will continue for 2 more years.
Oysters get a lot of attention because they filter water. This can lead to the assumption that oysters are constantly removing nutrients from the water, but not all of the nutrients that oysters filter stay in their tissues. Many get deposited into the water or sediment as waste. While scientists have studied and quantified the removal of nutrients through harvested oysters, little is known about what happens to nutrients in waste and associated transformations that occur in the sediments exposed to oyster detritus.
How do oysters remove nitrogen? Oysters are filter feeders; they remove particles from the water that contain nitrogen, primarily in algae (phytoplankton), and use it to build their tissues and shells or move it to bottom sediments in their biodeposits (pseudofeces). Benthic bivalves are important contributors of nitrogen (usually in the form of ammonium, NH4+) to both subtidal and intertidal systems. Once the nitrogen is in the sediments, microbes may break it down and release nitrogen gas into the atmosphere, a process called denitrification, removing nitrogen from the estuary. Also, when oysters are harvested all of the nitrogen incorporated in it is removed from the system as well. This makes aquaculture a tool for nitrogen removal in some areas.
Salt Marsh Study Update
WRWA has also been working with university researchers on an experimental approach to identify the mechanisms driving Westport River marsh loss. Scientists from Brown University, Providence College, and UCONN are currently conducting a series of descriptive and manipulative experiments in both branches of the River, which are experiencing different rates of salt marsh loss. Implementing sound conservation and management strategies require that we understand the underlying ecological processes that are contributing to accelerated marsh loss in the Westport River.
Information on the projects experimental design can be found here: . The next stage of the study is to put the findings into a historical conservation context. Scientists will investigate the historical changes in coastal land development, shoreline hardening and channel dredging along both branches of the Westport River.

WRWA's Salt Marsh Study Needs Your Marsh Photos

Historical reconstructions of both br
anches of the Westport River will be made using archived aerial photographs and historical images of shorelines provided by local citizens. If you have photos of the marshes taken over the last 40 years, please email them to  and be sure to say where and when they were taken. We will keep you updated on the status of the study and publish the scientists' results and recommendations when completed.

Welcome Commonwealth Corps
We are happy to welcome Bailey Sweet and Ryan Nuttall as our Commonwealth Corps Service volunteers for this season.  They will be assisting Shelli as environmental educators, helping to provide programs in the Westport School system this year.

Bailey is a familiar face at WRWA, having served an internship with us last summer. A Marion resident, she is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She is enrolled in their Psychology program, while minoring in Sustainability, working towards a Masters degree in Sustainability.

She has been an acting senator on the UMD student government, representing the commuter population. Bailey is also the chair of the GreenFee Allocation Committee, a group that funds sustainable projects on campus.

She feels it is important to educate her community because the environment is directly impacted by our actions. She is passionate about making a difference. Serving at WRWA is an ideal opportunity, not only to learn from her like-minded co-workers, but it also allows for complete immersion in her passion.

Ryan is from Northeastern Ohio, where he spent his childhood along Lake Erie and became interested in freshwater ecology. He pursued this in his undergraduate studies at the University of Akron where he completed a bachelor's in Biology with a project focused on freshwater phycology. This involved screening local lakes for harmful algal species. Then his focus shifted from freshwater to marine systems.

"To me, the ocean is the last frontier on this planet and I became passionate about contributing to our understanding of its dynamic ecosystems and global importance."

This is why he moved 700 miles east to Massachusetts to enter the master's program of marine science at UMASS Dartmouth. There, he completed a project on the ecological importance of denitrifying
bacteria associated with pelagic copepods. He is currently continuing this research in pursuit of a Ph.D. under the same program.

The WRWA team is pleased to have Bailey and Ryan contributing to our education programs this year, while also learning about the watershed ecosystem, as well as its history. We also hope they will benefit from the opportunity to interact with and teach students about biology and hopefully instill a love for science and the

Kindergarten Students Planting Bulbs
For Next Spring

Kindergarten students at Westport's Macomber School, under the guidance of WRWA educators, put their school garden to rest after filling the space with spring blooming bulbs.  Each student had a chance to plant daffodils, crocus, snow drops and alliums into the garden beds. 

Students are also caring for paper white bulbs in their classrooms so they can watch the bulb grow roots and leaves.  Classrooms are also predicting when their paper white bulbs will bloom in the next month or so.  Students will return to their garden work in the spring when the bulbs will bloom and the ground will be ready to be planted once again.
River Center Construction Underway Soon
Some design changes that have held up our renovation of the Head Garage have been completed. Engineers and architects are putting the finishing touches on the revisions, and our contractor Page Construction intends begin work in earnest within a few weeks.

The building will retain its current footprint. Inside, the existing space will be used efficiently, with the ground floor as a public space, and second and third floors as office and meeting space.  Earlier plans for an addition and conversion of the third floor to a mezzanine have been changed for engineering, fire code and cost considerations. Environmental features of the building include composting toilets, efficient heating and cooling, and solar collection panels. The target date for completion is June, 2019.
The illustration above is a drawing from DSK Architects and Planners, showing the future view of the back of the renovated building, from the Southwest.
If all goes according to plan, the building could be ready for us to move into next summer!
Autumn on the River

Most of us associate the River's beauty with summer activities and vistas.  But the Westport River is beautiful year-round.
Here we see a fishing boat with the harbor in the background, and the changing November foliage brightening up the scene.

Artists Welcome
Oars & Paddles Pick Up November 16

Old oars and paddles have been coming in and artists are signing up for our sixth annual Winter Art Show. Interested artists are invited to our adopt-an-oar party on Friday, November 16, from 4 - 5:30 p.m. Call us at 508-636-3016 or email to get involved.

We still need a few more old oars for our artists-please check the barn, garage, boathouse or basement to see if you have one or two you could donate. The Oars and Paddles show will run from February 23 through March 9, 2019, at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery. Silent Auction and Reception on March 9, 5-7 p.m .

2019 WRWA Photo Calendar
Great Holiday Gift Idea

The Westport River Watershed Alliance's new 2019 photo calendar is available now, featuring local tide graphs and photos of Westport scenes. This year's photos are the winners chosen from over 75 entries in WRWA's photo contest held this past spring.
The photographs, donated by area photographers, represent the most beautiful of Westport landscapes throughout the seasons, along with some remarkable wildlife shots.
"We had so many photos of beautiful scenes that are uniquely Westport, and some distinctive native wildlife shots for our photo contest," says Deborah Weaver, WRWA Executive Director. "This is one of the best collections of pictures yet for our 2019 calendar. Our thanks to all the talented photographers!"
The winning photos were provided by local photographers Tim Agnew, Rich Castenson, Lucy Chase, Rich Couse, Rick Eustis, Mark Goulding, Joanne Humphrey, Brianna McAvoy, Leslie Scanlon, and Greg Stone.
The calendars are on sale now at the WRWA headquarters at 1151 Main Road, online at , and locally at Lees Market, Partners Village Store and the Dedee Shattuck Gallery.
Cover of the 2019 WRWA Photo Calendar, "West Branch Serenity" by Rich Castenson.


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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