Here's what's happening this month
River News - September, 2017
WRWA Thanks Everyone for Helping Make
2017 Summer Gala a Success

Our annual Summer Gala was a big success this year, with over 500 guests attending the celebration at the Fitton Farm on River Road. WRWA would like to thank all those who came and supported our most important fundraiser.

Special thanks to the many volunteers who planned and helped set up the event, and our many benefactors, patrons and sponsors. Thanks also to all those who donated to our silent auction, which had 130 offerings, including goods and services, trips and experiences, and beautiful works of art.

Delightful food donations came from The Back Eddy, Formaggio's Kitchen, Wicked Kickin' Cheesecakes, Westport Rivers Vineyard and the Daily Grind.

Bacterial Concentrations Low This Year 
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
The Westport River Watershed Alliance has been sampling water quality at 19 sites along the Westport River and its tributaries for 26 years to evaluate the health of the river. This program monitors the river every week from the beginning of June to the end of August. We monitor for fecal coliform bacteria, which can assess swimming and shellfishing standards, each of which have specific concentrations of bacteria that are considered safe for humans.

Over the years bacteria counts have diminished in the river due to Title V septic improvements, better manure management and farming practices, and improved treatment and minimization of stormwater runoff - all of which the WRWA has advocated for, using these data to make the case for reducing pollution sources.

Thank you Ron Price and Catherine Williams, our dedicated volunteers who helped with this program this year.
WRWA Participates in Water Quality Discussion

Le aders in government met with regional environmental groups for an important walk-and-talk on the Westport River on September 8. Organized by the Massachusetts Environmental League, leaders pictured above engaged in discussions on water quality, particularly with respect to excess nitrogen levels, with the Westport River as backdrop. From left: Korrin Petersen (Buzzards Bay Coalition), Tanja Ryden (Westport Fishermen's Assn.), Rachel Jakuba (Buzzards Bay Coalition), Elizabeth Henry (Environmental League MA), Gabby Queenan (Mass Rivers Alliance), Dylan Fernandes (State Rep.), Deborah Weaver ( WRWA ), Chris Leonard (Harbor Master), Erica Mattison (Environmental League of MA), Paul Schmid (State Rep.), Michael Sullivan (Westport Selectman), and Michael Rodriques (State Senator).

WRWA Finishes 20th Year of Summer Science Programs 

The Westport River Watershed Alliance hosted the 20th year of its summer science programs, teaching participants about the importance of preserving the Westport River.  Students learned all about the plants and creatures that call the River home.  This year, there were over 70 young students from ages 3-16 taking part. Throughout the eight weeks of summer program

sessions, they had the opportunity to learn about the dunes in the Cherry & Webb Conservation Area, the life cycles of osprey, as well as the underwater worlds of squid, eels and much more.  The staff and volunteers all had a wonderful time sharing knowledge of the Westport River Watershed and enjoyed meeting all of our future stewards.
For the second year, the Watershed Alliance partnered with the Westport Cultural Council to offer seven scholarships to Westport students to join our summer science programs.  These students from the Westport Elementary School and the Alice B. Macomber School were selected through an essay contest highlighting why the Westport River is an important habitat.
WRWA would also like to thank the Westport Yacht Club for allowing the summer programs use their indoor space during rainy days and Osprey Sea Kayak for leading the kayaking/paddle- boarding programs. Thanks are also extended to Bay Coast Bank for sponsoring summer interns Alexie Rudman and Rachel Pacitto. "Leaders in training," high-school aged volunteers, for this season were: Sam Corey, Nora Kearney, Erin Brisbois and Riley Gavilrik. 
For more information about the Westport River Watershed Alliance and its education programs, visit our website at .
Westport River Watershed Alliance to Host
 Annual Coastsweep Beach Clean-up

The Westport River Watershed Alliance will be hosting the annual COASTSWEEP beach clean-up on Saturday, September 23. Volunteers are needed to help identify and remove trash and debris from the Westport oceanfront from 10 a.m. to noon.
Each September and October, thousands of volunteers throughout Massachusetts turn out for COASTSWEEP-the statewide coastal cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup  organized by Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Volunteers from all over the world collect marine debris-trash, fishing line, and any other human-made items-and record what they find. This information is then analyzed and used to identify sources of marine debris and develop education and policy initiatives to help reduce it.

Volunteers are invited to meet at the Town Beach parking lot on Cherry and Webb Lane at 10 o'clock. Gloves, trash bags and other materials will be provided. In addition to removing the debris from the beach, important data will be collected and returned to CZM.
The problems associated with marine debris extend well beyond aesthetics. Sea birds, seals, and other animals can be choked, starved, or poisoned when they mistake debris for food. A particular problem is when sea turtles die after swallowing clear plastic bags when they mistake them for jellyfish. Animals can also become entangled in nets, bags, ropes, and other trash, often resulting in drowning, suffocation, loss of mobility, or starvation. Beachgoers may injure themselves on items such as pieces of glass, wood, or metal while swimming or walking on the sand. Marine also debris poses a threat to navigation as propellers can become jammed with fishing line and boats can be damaged by colliding with large pieces of debris - and plastic can clog cooling intakes.
For more information, and to sign up, contact the Westport River Watershed Alliance at
508-636-3016 or email .
Volunteers of all ages helped out at one of last year's beach clean-up days.
Westport River Watershed Alliance to Host
Electronics Recycling Drop-Off
The Westport River Watershed Alliance will host the very popular Electronics Recycling collection day on Wednesday, October 4, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Town Hall parking lot on Main Road in Westport. The event has been moved to this larger and more easily accessible area for ease of collection and smoother traffic flow.

WRWA partners with Indie Cycle twice a year to provide this service to the community. One change in Indie Cycle's collection criteria is that they now charge a $10 disposal fee for printers.

ITEMS ACCEPTED AT NO CHARGE: Computers, laptops, PDA's, cell phones, mice, keyboards, toner cartridges, CD/DVD players, radios, network equipment, wires, stereos, speakers, telephones, microwaves, small household appliances, and auto and marine batteries. Anything with a wire!

A $10 DISPOSAL FEE APPLIES: for all TVs & Monitors, printers , mini-fridges, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and other coolant containing appliances.
NOT ACCEPTED: light bulbs, furniture or any hazardous materials such as paint, rechargeable and single use batteries, and broken TV tubes.

In previous events, the two trucks from Indie Cycle filled up quickly, so those interested in dropping off materials are advised to come early in the morning. WRWA helped collect over 18,000 pounds of old electronics at their collection days in 2015 and 2016.   Indie Cycle, LLC, has a zero landfill policy. They do not remarket any hard drives or data storage devices. All electronic materials are transferred to ORS a local, R2 certified recycler for processing.   See their website at for more information.

For more information on this recycling event, contact WRWA at  or call 508-636-3016.

Welcome New Commonwealth Corps Service Members

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.

For the past two years Commonwealth Corps members have helped WRWA to strengthen and expand its Watershed Education Program (WEP). The program teaches more than 2,000 local PreK-12 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.

Meet our 2017-2018 Commonwealth Corps members:  Angie Hilsman formerly worked as editor of Dartmouth Week, and as a web producer and reporter in Washington D.C. before joining WRWA. The native Rhode Islander had very little exposure to the outdoors before beginning her undergraduate career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she majored in journalism and sociology. Extended backpacking trips along the east coast grew her interest in conservation, which led her to switch fields. She hopes to continue learning and to inspire youth to protect and appreciate nature.

Victoria Quennessen is a recent graduate from UMass Dartmouth with degrees in marine biology and computational mathematics. Since her childhood climbing on rocks and hunting for garter snakes in the woods near her house in New Jersey, she has always appreciated and enjoyed nature. She is excited to jump into her year of service with the Commonwealth Corps as an Environmental Educator at WRWA - being elbow deep in gardens and aquariums, helping maintain WRWA projects, and teaching students all about the awesome nature they have in their own backyards.

Angie Hilsman and Victoria Quennessen

New 2018 Calendars Now Available 

This year's cover photo: Boathouse Row Sunset by Tim Agnew

Our new 2018 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. An independent group of volunteer judges viewed the photos and selected the winners last May.
The photographs, donated by area photographers, represent the most beautiful of Westport landscapes throughout the seasons, along with some remarkable wildlife shots.
"We had many beautiful photos sent in for our photo contest, of familiar vistas and native wildlife," says Deborah Weaver, WRWA Executive Director. "This is another lovely collection of pictures for our 2018 calendar. Our thanks to all the talented photographers!"
The winning photos were provided by local photographers Tim Agnew, Cheryl Aguiar, Lucy Chase, Tony Connors, Carol Coutinho, Lauren Miller Donnelly, Jane Dufault, Barry French, Mark Goulding, Ryan Johnson, and Greg Stone.  Thanks to all the photographers who sent us photos - we hope you will try again next year!  It is always a difficult task to choose from so many excellent photos.
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.

Submissions for the 2019 calendar will be sought in spring, 2018.
For more information, contact the Westport River Watershed Alliance at 508-636-3016 or email
New Commonwealth Corps Members Angie Hilsman and Victoria Quennessen with Education Director Shelli Costa, constructing new Oyster Cages for the Cockeast Pond Oyster project.  Because they have grown so much, the oysters have to be moved to larger containers.

Have you renewed your WRWA Membership for this year?

Creature Feature
Orange-Striped Green Anemone   (Diadumene lineata)
by Victoria Quennessen
If you've been in or around the Westport River lately, you might have noticed an orange-striped creature stuck to mussel shells or dock pilings. It's an anemone that originates from eastern Asia, but has spread to the rest of the world by attaching to ship hulls or by latching onto oysters being traded. The animal has traveled so far due to its ability to secrete a protective mucous and enter a rest state until it's moved to a better environment. Additionally, it survives in different coastal habitats because it can naturally adapt to a wide range of temperatures and salinity levels. Because of these traits, it's actually the most widespread anemone in the world!

Closely relate
d to jellyfish, the anemone eats using its tentacles. Most have 25 to 50 tentacles, but some have up to a 100. Stingers on the tentacles help anemone capture prey like plankton and small crabs
- but don't worry, they're not harmful to humans! Anemone can slide around the area where they are attached, and sometimes hitch a ride on snails or bigger crabs to move short distances. To reproduce, anemone split into several pieces, and then each piece becomes a whole new anemone.  
The orange-striped green anemone is a small creature - its body only grows about three centimeters tall, and the tentacles don't grow larger than 3.5 centimeters long. However, because of its ability to thrive in different environments, this tiny critter can outcompete other anemones for food and space. They can also inhibit oysters' and mussels' ability to feed by covering the shellfish. So next time you're on the Westport River, check your boat, or any rocks or bridges - y ou might see one attached to the wood or on mussel shells.


Poet's Book of Reflections on life at Westport Point
Benefits Watershed Alliance

An unusu

al, highly acclaimed book of poetry that centers itself in Westport has just been published. If you think poetry today is incomprehensible or irrelevant, this book may just prove you wrong!

By Richard Dey, a former commercial fisherman and resident there, WESTPORT POINT ♦ Poems spans nearly five decades and includes poems based on offshore lobstering and swordfishing as well as on sailing a Beetle Cat on the Westport river. Other poems concern different boats and people, associating them with various themes. They are equally personal and impersonal, of the sea and the land, in formal and free verse, and a few are humorous. You are as likely to come upon a poem about a capsized boat as about the degradation of the salt marshes. There are two fine elegies also, uniting the deceased with the estuary peninsula.
Richard Dey with his son Russell, boating on the Westport River

Many of these poems were first published in magazines ranging from Poetry to Sail. What makes them unusual is that they are accessible yet literate, and unabashedly about a particular place and its people.
WESTPORT POINT ♦ Poems is available from the Westport River Watershed Alliance online at, at the WRWA office (1151 Main Road) and at Partners Village Store (855 Main Road) in Westport.


Please Save Us Your Lees Receipts!

The Watershed Alliance is a Lees Market Community Partner, and has received over $50,000 from this program since 1989. Please save up your market receipts and drop them off at 1151 Main Road, or mail to
Westport River Watershed Alliance
PO Box 3427 * Westport, MA   02790.     Thank you, Lees Market!

Corporate Sponsors

Westport River Watershed Alliance | 508-636-3016 |

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