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Westport River Watershed Alliance
River News - October, 2015
WRWA hosting Commonwealth Corps members to provide hands-on environmental education to local students
Shelli Costa
 
WRWA is pleased to announce it has been chosen to be one of 17 Commonwealth Corps Host Site Partners. Administered by the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the Commonwealth Corps engages Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism.
WRWA is hosting two Commonwealth Corps members to help strengthen and expand our Watershed Education Program (WEP). The WEP program teaches over 2,000 local students each year about the importance of keeping our river clean. Our two service members for this year are: Rebecca Buchanan and Shannon Choquette.
 
Rebecca Buchanan is very excited to be joining the WRWA team! She is from Wrentham, MA but frequently visited Westport during the summer as a child. Rebecca just graduated from the University of New England with a degree in Marine Science. Her hobbies include skiing, playing the guitar, and she just learned how to scuba dive. Rebecca is very happy to start educating children about the Watershed, and is looking forward to a great year with the WRWA.
 
Shannon Choquette graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Ma, with a degree in Environmental Science and Conservation Biology. Her love of nature began in the classroom, and now she enjoys spending time in the woods, observing the plants and the mushrooms, looking for animal tracks, and listening to the sounds. This year, she hopes to learn about the ecosystem of the Westport River, while serving with the local school community to help students foster an appreciation for the beautiful area in which they live.
 
2015-2016 Commonwealth Corps members will serve for 10.5 months in a stipended full-time or half-time capacity with one of our 17 selected host site partners in the focus areas of Economic Opportunity/Workforce Development, Education, Health/Nutrition, or Youth Development, from August 13, 2015 through June 25, 2016. Corps members provide direct service, build capacity, and recruit, organize, and mobilize additional volunteers, thus building a grassroots movement of volunteers dedicated to service. The Commonwealth Corps has a dual focus both on members' impact in their organizations and communities and on members' own growth and development. 

A letter from the Executive Director Deborah Weaver

October, 2015
 
Dear Friends of WRWA:
 
Thank you for your support of WRWA, an amazing organization with a dedicated volunteer and donor community. After 35 years of non-profit leadership in Boston, I became your executive director nine months ago. Our mission: to restore, protect, celebrate and sustain our estuary is what inspired me to lead this wonderful group, to help it not only to make a clear and positive impact on the environment but also to be a catalyst for watershed protection. I grew up in a family whose first collective action was to "Save the Park" in Connecticut. I hope to leave a similar legacy of protection here in Westport. Once lost, environmental gems are irretrievable. My primary role as steward of WRWA is to assure our estuary is forever protected and sustained.
 
As the leaves change and the air gets crisper, the Westport River Watershed Alliance launches its Annual Fund Drive. We count on your support of WRWA to deliver the services and expertise that is our standard, and we ask for you to give as generously as you possibly can this year. Your gift will support ongoing operations and will help us to get the year started with a community wide expression of our vision: "working together for clean waters and a healthy river community, now and for future generations". This is our shared legacy- we will leave the river and watershed clean & pristine for our children and their children, so that they may benefit from the beauty and peace that we all appreciate.
 
As we work to build WRWA capacity to protect this unique and environmentally sensitive area, we count on you: your financial support, your engagement with our mission and your commitment to our vision, now and for the future.
Please donate to our Annual Fund. You can use this easy link to contribute on-line. 
 
We thank you for your continued and amazing support. Have a wonderful holiday season, and rest easy that we are doing all we can to preserve the health of our river.
 
Best wishes from all of us,
 
Deborah Weaver 
Executive Director
Volunteer for East Beach Clean-up  October 31st
 
The Westport River Watershed Alliance will be hosting a beach clean-up at East Beach on Saturday, October 31. Volunteers are needed to help identify and remove trash and debris from the Buzzards Bay coastline from 10 a.m. to noon.
 
Late October is a good time for cleaning this area, as summer residents depart for the winter. Volunteers can expect to find significant amounts of plastic and other debris that is not only unsightly, but can harm sea birds and other aquatic creatures who mistake it for food. Volunteers are invited to meet at the East Beach parking area on East Beach Road at 10 o'clock. Gloves, trash bags and other materials will be provided.
 
According to a National Geographic report last year, 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans each year. That is the equivalent of 5 grocery bags for every foot of coastline around the world. While it is important to clean our shores of debris, it is also vital that we be careful disposing any trash - even far inland, because that trash often makes its way into streams and rivers, which ultimately flow to the oceans.
 
For more information, and to sign up, contact the Westport River Watershed Alliance at 508-636-3016 or email [email protected].
WRWA 2016 Calendars on sale now!
 
Hasn't 2015 just flown by?  Before you know it, we will be ringing in a new year!  Make sure you are prepared - pick up a colorful 2016 WRWA Calendar, featuring photos of Westport landscapes from the four seasons.

Calendars are available at WRWA Headquarters, Westport Apothecary, Lees Market, Partners Village Store, Pine Hill Convenience, Simmons Country Store and the Country Store at the Head of Westport.  Or you can buy on-line now!
And, WRWA calendars make great gifts, especially for those who spend their off-seasons elsewhere!

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is located at 1151 Main Road, Westport.
For more information, contact Steve Connors, WRWA Community Engagement Manager, at 508-636-3016, or by email at [email protected].                              
Take a Walk with WRWA and Friends
 
WRWA will team up with Fall River City Forester Mike Labossiere to explore another important area of our 100 square mile watershed.  Many people are surprised to learn that much of the area north of the Westport town line is conservation land within the city of Fall River!
Join us for a walk in the Boiling Spring area on Saturday, November 7 at 10 a.m. Sign up for this free guided hike through woodlands where the tributaries of the East Branch of the Westport River begin. 
Boiling Spring Walk with Mike Labossiere, Fall River Forester: Saturday, November 7, 10 a.m. Walk will start at the Copicut Rifle Association parking area on Quanapoag Road in Fall River.  Call or email to sign up or for information: 508-636-3016 or [email protected] 
Creature Feature: Learning about the Limpet
Shannon Choquette, Commonwealth Corps Service Member
 
The limpet is one of the many varieties of sea snail found in the Westport River ecosystem. The most common limpet native to our area is the slipper limpet.  They are most commonly found attached to the surface of rocks, and stacked on each other during low tide.  The limpet may appear to be immobile; if you have ever tried to remove one from a rock, you know they are almost impossible to detach. However, when covered by water during high tides, the limpet disconnects from the rock and uses a foot muscle to move along the rock's surface in search of food. 
When in motion, the limpet will protrude its head from under its shell, which contains two tentacles with light sensitive eyespots and a mouth. The limpet may move slowly, but is very defensive of its resources, and is known to use its shell to forcefully remove other limpets, barnacles, and mussels from its territory.
Limpets are vegetarian, feeding on algae and marine plants. When conditions do not allow them to search for food, as in low tide or night, they will return to the same resting site, and will use their muscular foot, as well as an adhesive mucus, to fasten themselves to the rock. It is still unclear to scientists how they continuously find the same resting site. When conditions allow them to forage, they scrape the surface of the rock with a tongue-like structure, known as a radula, which contains thousands of microscopic denticles, or tooth-like structures.
Another interesting fact about the slipper limpet is its ability to change from male to female over its lifespan. Studies have found that slipper limpets are born male but will transition to female at a certain size, or if there are not many females present. For the common slipper limpet, who live stacked onto each other, this ensures that there is always a female present in the group of limpets.
Limpet Fun Facts:
A limpet's teeth are made of the strongest biological material known to man! Yes, even stronger than spider silk.
The limpet is very territorial, and can use its shell to bulldoze other limpets or barnacles off of a rock.
The limpet can change from male to female during its lifespan, and is therefore hermaphroditic.


Request for Artists!  Third annual BUOY the Winter Blues show coming up in February
Join us for our third annual "BUOY THE WINTER BLUES" art show, to be held in late February - early March at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport.
 
Local artists provide beautiful and innovative designs for the wooden lobster pot buoys, which we display in a silent auction.  This event is a fun distraction from the winter doldrums, and also an important fundraiser for WRWA!

Check out an album of photos from previous shows on our facebook page. To sign up to receive a buoy and get started, or to get involved in the event, email Steve at [email protected].
Adopt-a-Watershed at Westport High School
Rebecca Buchanan, Commonwealth Corps Service Member
 
High school students in Dan Harrington's Environmental Science class learned about water quality through WRWA's Adopt-a-Watershed program. During their first lesson, students focused on how pollution affects the rivers, streams, and groundwater in Westport. Students worked with an interactive Watershed model, and learned how rainwater runs off the land throughout Westport. They also worked with a groundwater model, and learned how pollution is carried through underground through the water.

During the second lesson, students examined water samples for small insects called macroinvertebrates. In each sample, students identified and counted the species they found. Macroinvertebrates include creatures like dragonfly nymphs, fly larvae, leeches, salamanders, and water pennies. Students were able to assess the health of the brook based on the amount of sensitive creatures they recorded. To finish the lessons students headed to Kirby Brook to conduct a stream survey. Students geared up in boots and waders and recorded observations and collected samples of the water. They tested for pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, turbidity, and assessed the health and cleanliness of the water.
This program is part of the Watershed Education Program. Each year students from PreK to High School learn about different aspects of their watershed. The Westport River Watershed Alliance provides the program as a compliment to the science curriculum each grade is covering for the year. It provides a hands-on way for students to not only learn science, but also about the habitats that are in their own backyards.

WRWA's mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed which encompasses six towns: Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown, and Westport in Massachusetts, and Little Compton and Tiverton in Rhode Island. WRWA accomplishes its goal of protecting the watershed through education, advocacy, and community outreach.
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