Westport River Watershed Alliance
February 2022
Dear Members and Friends:
It's surprising how much we have going on here at WRWA in the late winter. And a busy spring is just a turn of the calendar page away.

Firstly, we hope that you have seen our new summary flyer on our work investigating the loss of salt marsh in the Westport River. This was sent out by mail earlier this month to all WRWA members, and the electronic version is available to all online. You will find details below in this newsletter.

We are very excited to present our 9th Annual Winter Art Show, beginning February 23 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery. Our theme this year is "Above and Below - Perspectives on the Westport River from a bird's eye and a fish eye." The artwork is amazing, and we hope everyone has an opportunity to see the show either in person or online at 32Auctions.com. More information following in this issue of River News.

And finally, we have two more speakers lined up in our Winter Speaker Series, so we hope you will sign up. All the speakers have been through Zoom this winter, with everyone still wary of Covid. We have high quality video recordings of our first two speakers, Dr. Heather Goldstone speaking on our Climate Emergency, and Jamie Jacquart from UMass Dartmouth speaking about Sustainability in Westport and what each of us can do. You can find the links to these videos below.

Thanks for your continuing support for WRWA and all our programs and initiatives. We have a busy spring coming up with electronics recycling and beach clean-ups, as well as our annual meeting in March. We hope you will continue to follow all our activities in our monthly issues of River News.


WRWA Members -
Check your mailboxes!

We are excited to be sharing with our members a summary flyer on our work investigating the loss of salt marsh in the Westport River. This study was performed by Dr. Catharine Matassa from the University of Connecticut and Dr. Patrick Ewanchuk from Providence College, with the oversight of Brown University’s nationally recognized salt marsh expert Dr. Mark Bertness. If you would like to the full report, it is available on our website:

Our researchers tested two hypotheses regarding the cause of salt marsh degradation:
1.) Salt marsh loss might be driven by excess nitrogen (nutrients) and/or
2.) Salt marsh loss might be driven by a change in “flow” or hydrology

Over a two year period and with the help of numerous students, WRWA staff and Board members, extensive biological experiments were conducted to compare soils, quantify the impact of increased nitrogen levels on plant health, and compare in-field results with plant growth in greenhouses. At the same time devices were deployed to look at water velocities and levels.

While it is known that excess Nitrogen levels have seriously harmful impacts on river health and water quality, this study eliminated nitrogen as the cause of marsh deterioration. Instead, a correlation of higher water velocity (speed of the water as it passes by the marshes) and tide height (higher and lower tides) appear to be the more likely drivers. 
Lowering Nitrogen in the river is imperative to promote water quality and lower Algae levels, and WRWA is committed to working with the Town to this end. What this research has demonstrated, however, is that reducing nitrogen will not solve the problem with our salt marshes. To better understand this, we will have to look more closely at the hydrology of the River and how it may have changed over time. 

We are presently developing the scope of Phase 2 of this study which will look at the impact/s of increased water flows and velocities. To do this we will collaborate with University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) and the original Team. We will keep you apprised of our progress as well as opportunities to learn more about the ongoing work.
Summer Internships - Apply Now
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is seeking two qualified candidates to fill our seasonal, summer internship positions. The positions are 30 hrs./week at a rate of $14.50 hr., from late May 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.

  • Assist Education Director with school programs & field studies
  • Assist Education Director with Coastal Explorers Club, a science-based summer program for children ages 3-16 at the beach & river
  • Create materials for Watershed Education Program
  • Help prepare and conduct River Center tours
  • Maintain marine aquariums in the River Center
  • Participate in water quality monitoring program on the Westport River
  • Assist with general administrative tasks and other projects as they arise
Personal Characteristics
  • Enthusiastic engagement with the mission and activities of the Westport River Watershed Alliance
  • Energy & enthusiasm to work with all ages

Professional Qualifications       

  • Experience working with children of various ages
  • Basic knowledge of the natural sciences and or/marine ecology
  • Flexibility to work on a wide range of projects
  • Ability to work comfortably and effectively in a professional, organized manner
  • Experience with informal teaching in outdoor setting a plus
The internship is offered to an undergraduate student who plans to pursue a career in environmental science, environmental education or a related field. Some past interns have been able to receive college credit for the internship through arrangements with their university.
Interested Applicants Please send a cover letter, resume and 3 references to: 
Shelli Costa, Education Director
           Westport River Watershed Alliance
           P.O. Box 3427
           Westport, MA 02790
           (508) 636-3016 ext 1006
Scholarship Opportunity for
High School Seniors
WESTPORT - The Westport River Watershed Alliance 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 was 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 www.westportwatershed.org or by calling the WRWA office at 508-636-3016 ext. 1006. Guidance departments in local high schools also have applications on file. All applications are due into WRWA office no later than April 1, 2022.

The merit awards offer WRWA an opportunity to honor students who have demonstrated their interest in protecting the Westport River. WRWA’s mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed. WRWA accomplishes its mission through education, advocacy, and community outreach.  
Two New Videos from our Educators
Winter Tree Identification and Winter Hibernation
WRWA Education Director Shelli Costa takes us through the interesting challenge of identifying trees in winter, when they have no leaves. There are other clues, in the bark, in the buds, and even in the orientation of their branches.

And our Terracorps member Michaelah explores hibernation and other winter changes local wild life must go through in our winter months. In this video we discuss hibernation, migration, and adaptation along with examples you can see right outside your window.

These videos are part of Westport River Watershed Alliance "Wonders of the Watershed" video series.
Remembering our dear friend Elizabeth Brinkerhoff
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the recent passing of our dear friend and long-time board member Elizabeth Brinkerhoff. Elizabeth was a cheerful presence at all WRWA events, including many River Day celebrations, summer concerts and summer Galas. She was a great lover and collector of art, and was invaluable in helping
WRWA acquire some of the wonderful art that our Gala auction has been known for.

We will all miss Elizabeth very much, and are grateful that she shared so much of her life and talents with us.
Winter Speaker Series continues March 3, and March 31 - Videos of previous speakers online now
WRWA has been presenting a series of informative presentations by expert speakers this winter. The talks are Zoom events, allowing those interested to view online. Programs are on Thursday evenings at 5 p.m.

The previous two programs were recorded, and you can view the videos here at the links provided:

January 13 - Dr. Heather Goldstone, Director of Communications for the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Woods Hole, MA (formerly the Woods Hole Climate Research Center). Her talk focuses on the latest climate research.

February 10 - Jamie Jacquart, Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability at UMASS Dartmouth. His talk is about sustainability in Dartmouth/Westport. 


March 3 - Renee Montanaro is a Doctoral student from UMASS Dartmouth and will speak about her field of study, Asian Shore Crabs.

March 31 - Dr. Robert Gegear is a Professor at UMASS Dartmouth who will be speaking about his specialty - Native Pollinators and why they are important.

Contact WRWA at outreach@wrwa.com to sign up or for more information.
Winter Art Show Opens February 23 at Dedee Shattuck Gallery
Our 9th annual art show will be opening on February 23 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery and will run through March 5, 2022. This year's theme is "Above and Below" - perspectives on the Westport River through a bird's eye and a fish eye. The view through the creative eye of the artists is wonderful, and we encourage everyone to come to the show in person or view it online at 32Auctions.com. The link to the show and auction will be posted on our web page www.westportwatershed.org on February 23 when the show opens.

For more information, call WRWA at 508-636-3016 x 1003. The show opens at 12 noon and closes at 4 p.m., closed on Monday and Tuesday. The Dedee Shattuck Gallery is located at One Partners Lane, Westport, MA.
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 or mail to WRWA
493 Old County Road, or mail to PO Box 3427, Westport, MA 02790

Thank you!
Thank You to our 2022 Corporate Sponsors