Westport River Watershed Alliance
November, 2021
Dear Members and Friends:
During this season, we tend to reflect back on the year and think of what we have accomplished and of the things for which we are grateful. We had a good year at the Watershed Alliance, with the resumption of many programs and events that had been curtailed during 2020. We are particularly thankful for you, our members and supporters who enable us to continue our important work.

We hope that as you consider your end-of-year charitable giving, you will support our 2021 Annual Fund Drive. It is our most important fund raiser of the year, and it helps to keep our science, education and outreach programs running strong. We appreciate all our members’ consistent support, and hope for a generous response. You may have received our letter in the mail recently, or you can donate on our web page. A big thanks to all who have given already.

We have an interesting line-up of speakers planned for an upcoming winter speaker series called “Investigate WOW, The Wonders of the Watershed,” starting in January. We will use a combination of in-person and on-line presentations on a variety of important and entertaining topics, including Asian Shore Crabs, Sustainability, Pollinators, and Climate Change.

Additionally, we are offering tours of the River Center between now and mid-December, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a great opportunity to see our resource room and all it has to offer for public education. Contact Bailey at rivercenter@wrwa.com to make a reservation.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season! We have many events and programs for the new year, which you can read about in upcoming issues of River News. Many thanks for your commitment to WRWA - we couldn't do it without your help.

All the best,

WRWA 2022 Calendar Now Available

The new WRWA Photo Calendar with local tide charts is now available online and at the River Center and Partners Village Store. It features the winning photographs from our annual photo contest.

The calendar is a great gift for anyone who loves Westport's unique beauty and scenery! And the daily tide graphs are a useful added bonus for anyone who watches the tides in the Westport River. Pick up your copies soon.
WRWA Continues Research on Drivers of
Marsh Deterioration
WRWA is working to better understand the mechanism for the loss of marsh area in the Westport River. New research is being done to fully understand the changes in water flow and sediment dynamics. This information is vital to any possible future successful restoration or mitigation project. Analyses of historical aerial photography indicate that this loss of marsh has been occurring over several decades and is thought to have been accelerating over the past 10‐15 years. 

A 2017 study done by the Dr. Joe Costa, Buzzards Bay National Estuaries Program determined that the River has lost nearly half of the salt marsh areas since 1938. To further investigate marsh loss, WRWA sponsored a salt marsh study which was conducted by Professors Patrick Ewanchuk and Catherine Matassa of Providence College and University of Connecticut respectively. The results of this project indicate that the prime drivers of degradation are not nutrient driven, rather related to a change in flow within the River system and its accompanying consequences including inundation and sedimentation changes.
Board member Michael Sullivan has generously donated his time to begin collecting tide data within the River. Mike has deployed tide gauges in the River at a number of sites across the West Branch. Data generated will provide answers to questions of how differences in water flow, submergence time, and relative sea level relate to marsh conditions.

Huge thanks to Sean Leach (pictured above) for his expertise with survey and geolocation equipment use and calibration. Thanks as well to Bobby Carrol (pictured at right) for assisting Mike in gauge deployment.
Please Support our Annual Fund Drive
As we complete another successful year, we are asking you to support our mission by making a donation to our
year-end Annual Appeal. The Annual Fund is used exclusively for our operations, so your support is critical!
2021 was a busy year at the Watershed Alliance: 

  • Our summer programs were fully enrolled, including 12 full Scholarships awarded through the Gay Gillespie Summer Scholarships
  • We held over 20 Open Days at the River Center, and we welcomed back educator, Bailey Sweet, to enhance our outreach  programs.
  • We completed the oyster study in Cockeast Pond and published a comprehensive report to our membership. We continued to work with university researchers on the decline of our Salt Marshes, a summary of the findings will go out in December.
  • We partnered with Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Town of Westport on a study of the feasibility of shared de-nitrification systems in certain populated neighborhoods along the river.
  • School programs returned to onsite teaching and some field studies.
And plans for 2022 are ambitious too: 

  • We plan on a full schedule of educational programs at the River Center, and more family open days. 
  • A second phase of the Salt Marsh Study will look at additional factors that might have a role in the decline.
  • Our WOW (Wonders of the Watershed) series includes: Investigate WOW- Winter speaker series - Celebrate WOW- Winter art show - Experience WOW- Birding, Hikes, Paddles and Family Activities. 
Please help us continue the important work we are performing to protect and preserve our beautiful river. You can donate online at: https://www.westportwatershed.org, send your donation to PO Box 3427, Westport MA 02790, or call our office at 508-636-3016. 
Thank you.
View our latest video created by TerraCorps member Michaelah, entitled, "Fall Foliage, why leaves change color." It includes beautiful aerial footage of Westport and the Westport River.
Winter Speaker Series planned for
Jan.13, Feb. 10, March 3, and March 31
WRWA will again be presenting a series of informative presentations by expert speakers this winter. The talks will be a hybrid of in-person and Zoom events, allowing those interested to view online or at the River Center. This will also depend on the Covid situation this winter. Programs will be on Thursday evenings at 5 p.m.
The line up is as follows:

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 will focus on the latest climate research.

February 10 - Jamie Jacquart, Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability at UMASS Dartmouth. He will be talking 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 Pollinators. He will be speaking March 31.

Contact WRWA at outreach@wrwa.com or rivercenter@wrwa.com to sign up or for more information.
Winter Art Show will return to Dedee Shattuck Gallery
We are happy to announce that our 9th annual art show will be returning to the Dedee Shattuck Gallery February 23 through March 5, 2022. This year's theme will be "Above and Below" - perspectives on the Westport River through a bird's eye and a fish eye. Of course, the view will be through the creative eye of the artists!

The show will run for two weeks; in early 2020 (just before the pandemic) we had hundreds of visitors. We hope that the 2022 show will attract a similar audience.

We appreciate the extraordinary talents of our regional artists and enjoy the opportunity to share great art with the general public each winter.
Check out River Center online Weather Station data
You can view the weather conditions at the River Center at the Head of Westport anytime online at this link. Check on the temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and rainfall totals, updated every few minutes!

Our thanks to Bill Sanford, pictured at right, for helping us install the weather station on the roof of the River Center.
Volunteers Help Clean Up Horseneck Beach
This group of volunteers organized by WRWA's TerraCorps member Michaelah Vasconcellos did a beach cleanup at Horseneck beach (the state reservation) in November and collected over 75 pounds of trash.
Michaela is hosting monthly cleanups of the beach area through the winter. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, December 4 from 10 am to noon. Volunteers can get in touch with her at terracorps@wrwa.com.
Rare & Endangered Salamander Spotted in Bioreserve
This handsome fellow, in simple and classic black and white, is a marbled salamander
Ambystoma opacum. The photo was shared by our friend Everett Castro from Green Futures.

This rare salamander lives in the forest along the upper tributaries of the Westport River in the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve. In Massachusetts the marbled salamander is listed by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as "Threatened". Unlike the common spotted salamander, its close relative, which breeds in vernal pools (ephemeral pools of spring rainwater in the forest), marbled salamanders wait for fall rains to fill autumnal pools to breed and lay their eggs.

The Watershed Alliance has live spotted salamanders at its River Center education center. Contact Bailey Sweet at rivercenter@wrwa.com to visit the River Center.
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 2021 Corporate Sponsors