Westport River Watershed Alliance

RIVER NEWS

February 2016

WRWA Annual Meeting will be held on March 13  
 
Dr. Heather Goldstone, WGBH & WCAI
Join The Westport River Watershed Alliance for its Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 13 at the Bittersweet Farm, Main Road, Westport, MA.
The $20 Brunch starts at 11:30 a.m. The meeting begins at 12:30 and is free of charge.

This year's guest speaker is Dr. Heather Goldstone
, science correspondent for WCAI and WGBH Radio, and host of Living Lab, a weekly live interview show about science and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as an active researcher. Her reporting about scientific and environmental issues on Cape Cod has appeared on NPR, PBS News Hour, The Takeaway, and PRI's The World. In 2014, she was named WGBH's Margret and Hans Rey/Curious George Producer for her wide-ranging curiosity in reporting. WRWA will also be presenting the annual Volunteer Award. This is WRWA's 40th Anniversary year. 

RSVP to
outreach@wrwa.com, or call 508-636-3016. The $20 brunch can be paid online or at the door the day of the meeting. But RSVP is necessary for head count for food preparation.
Don't Miss BUOY the Winter Blues show and Brushes & Brews 
 
Our third annual "BUOY THE WINTER BLUES" art show, to be held February 27 - March 5 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport, is shaping up to be our best yet.
 
Over 50 regional artists have outdone themselves this year with designs and creativity.  This year, the show will be up for an entire week.
 
Show hours are as follows: Opening: Saturday, February 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday March 2 - Friday, March 4, - 1 to 4 pm. Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. reception 5 to 7 pm

Bids can be placed on the art works any time during this week-long period, with the auction ending after the reception. Music will be provided by the John Stein Trio. 
Wine and beer provided by Westport Rivers and Buzzards Bay. 
 
You can see a preview of the Buoys on our web page - www.westportwatershed.org
 
Create your own version of this familiar West Branch scene.
Brushes and Brews  
Enjoy some beer from Buzzards Bay Brewing, and take an art lesson from local artists Pam Clarkson and Barbara Healy at the Shattuck Gallery on February 27, at 5 - 7 p.m.  
$35 fee - or become a WRWA member at $50 and participate for free.
Space is limited to 15 - sign up today.
Contact WRWA at 508-636-3016 or
outreach@wrwa.com for more information.
WRWA Celebrating 40 Years Protecting the Westport River Watershed
Anniversary Concert With Tom Rush July 16
Tom Rush

2016 marks our 40th Anniversary!  The Watershed Alliance was formed in 1976 by a group of concerned Westport residents, addressing pollution in the River.  Over 40 years, the organization has grown and matured, providing valuable scientific data and popular education programs to students in Westport and surrounding areas.
 
Please come to our our 40th Anniversary celebration concert on July 16, with Tom Rush at the Westport Rivers Vineyard, co-presented with the Narrows Center for the Arts and sponsored in part by Lafrance Hospitality and Andy Paige Style. For more information, visit www.westportwatershed.org, or www.narrowscenter.org.  Tickets are on sale now.
Or contact Steve at outreach@wrwa.com or 508-636-3016.
Scholarship Funds Available for Local Students 

The Westport River Watershed Alliance is pleased to offer a $1,000 scholarship opportunity for graduating seniors in the Westport River watershed: Fall River, Dartmouth, Freetown, Westport, Little Compton, and Tiverton. The award was made possible by the generosity of the late Margot C. Boote and Bill Heath in memory of his parents Ruth and Bill Heath.
  
The merit award applications are available on the WRWA website: http://westportwatershed.org/news-events/2012-merit-scholarship/ or by calling the WRWA office at 508-636-3016.  Guidance departments in local high schools have applications on file. All applications are due in the office no later than April 1, 2016. The Alliance has a proud record of environmental stewardship. The merit awards offer an opportunity to honor students who have demonstrated their interest in protecting the watershed environment.
WRWA Advocacy Director Betsy White with Everett Mills
Local Herring Get a Boost
Betsy White, Advocacy Director
 
Under the direction of Westport Fish Commissioner Everett Mills, the herring run at Cockeast Pond got some much needed attention recently, just in time for the spring herring migration. Concern regarding the condition of the herring run, which was showing signs of increasing erosion along the banks, led Mr. Mills to ask for and receive assistance at no cost from Bristol County Mosquito Control (BCMQ). Erosion not only left banks slumping into the stream, but also caused many of the rocks underlying the banks, ranging from small boulders down to cobble, to move into the stream bed. This created potential obstacles not only for migrating fish, but also for the movement of water necessary for migration. Herring, shad, and eels are some of the fish species moving into and out of the pond to spawn and feed.

Arriving early morning and taking advantage of low tide, Mr. Mills, working with Steve Burns from BCMQ, guided the excavator driver as he gently moved rocks and cobble to the side, reinforcing the banks and creating a slight channel which fish prefer. The expertise of the BCMQ comes from the work they do to maintain the myriad of mosquito ditches, streams, channels throughout Bristol County.

The goal of this project was to improve the access through the herring run up into the pond for this season's migration. Herring will start to run when water temperature reaches 51 degrees, which may happen as soon as the end of February. They are an important food source for many animals and are considered a keystone species due to their critical role in the ecosystem. Herring populations have been decreasing to alarmingly low levels over the past years, and were listed as Species of Concern in 2006. There is currently a state ban on the harvesting of herring. The Cockeast Pond herring run is one of a relatively small number of runs still supporting a herring population, and its existence is vital to the success of the species.
 
This project received approval from the Westport Conservation Commission and the MA Division of Marine Fisheries. It was also supported by a number of local groups, such as the Westport River Watershed Alliance, the Westport Land Conservation Trust, the Spindle Rock Trust, and the Westport Fishermen's Association.
Registration is open for WRWA's Summer Coastal Ecology Program 
  
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is again offering a fun, hands on summer science program for kids ages 3-16.  

The Coastal Explorers Program - Ages 7-9. 
Monday- Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Weeks of July 11-15 & July 25-29. 
Children discover marine life, create eco-crafts, learn about coastal habitats and enjoy games on the beach.  The program fee is $160 for WRWA members and $200 for
non-members
 
River Edventures - Ages 9-11.
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Weeks of July 18-22 and August 8-12.
This program delves deeper into understanding our environment by learning about food chains and the creatures that make up our watershed ecosystem.  Participants will head out on WRWA's skiff to explore the Westport River. The cost for River Edventures is $180 for members and $220 for
non-members. 
 
Watershed Explorers- Ages 12-16. 
Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Week of August 1-5. 
In this program, participants learn about the ecology of the Westport River, visit coastal habitats and spend three days paddling on the Westport River.  The kayaking/paddle boarding portion of the program is led by certified instructors from Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures, and includes all equipment and instruction.  The fee is $360 for members and $400 for non-members.
Register online at: www.westportwatershed.org/education/summer-programs/ or call 508-636-3016 for more information.
River Center Update
 
The River Center is slowly becoming a reality. This past year we have hosted many open houses to share our vision with friends and the public. The most exciting news is that we have made our match for the MA Cultural Facilities Fund grant that we received. We needed to raise $450,000 for the match and to date have actually raised the match and more! Too, with the outstanding pledges and the Community Preservation commitment, we are almost at our goal.

The Facilities Committee is well into the arduous permitting journey with the different Town Boards who have to sign off on the project before we can put a shovel in the ground. We anticipate this will be completed soon. The final design concept for the River Center embraces the historic character of the building and includes exciting use of space, light and green design features. We are grateful for the interest and generous support the project has received.
     
Artist's depiction of new River Center


It's Back! WRWA Photo Contest

The Watershed Alliance will revive the traditional photo contest for the 2017 Calendar.  We will be looking for landscape and nature photos that show the unique beauty and diversity of the Westport River Watershed.  Photos from all seasons are being sought.

To submit an image send your color digital images of nature in the watershed (i.e. the river, streams, wildlife, plants, etc.) to WRWA. Please limit 10 pictures per person.
Pictures should be submitted as JPGs.  Certain image criteria must be met in order for the image to be used in the calendar. Image size should be no smaller than 10 x 8 inches (pixel dimensions 3000 x  2400). Image resolution should be 300 dpi or greater. File size should be 1MB or greater. Deadline for image submission is May 1, 2016. 
Each image should be given a title by the artist. Please name the image file to match the image title.  The artist should also include their name, so that they can be credited in the calendar.  
Image criteria is also listed on our website: www.westportwatershed.org. Questions about criteria and image submissions can be emailed to Steve Connors at outreach@wrwa.com or call 508-636-3016. By sending in your pictures you are allowing WRWA to use your pictures to inspire the appreciation and celebration of Westport's natural resources.

Independent judges, including Bruce Burdett, editor of the Westport Shorelines, Phil Devitt, editor of the Dartmouth Chronicle, and  WRWA member Wendy Goldberg, will select the 13 best photos (one for the cover). 
Send us your best Westport photo! 
Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio)
Becky Buchanan, Commonwealth Corps Service Member
 
 Have you ever heard an eerie trilling call in the night? The sound is probably coming from an Eastern screech owl. Contrary to its name, the owl's call is more of a whinny or soft trill, not a loud piercing screech. The Eastern screech owl's range is in the eastern half of the United States, and it can be found year round in Massachusetts.
 These owls are only about 9 inches tall, and only weigh as much as a can of soda. Two colorations are found in nature: gray, or rufous (red colored). Eastern screech owls are usually monogamous and pairs remain together for life. The owls begin looking for mates in the winter and lay their eggs in March or April. These owls will nest in tree cavities and owl boxes. Screech owls are not endangered and currently their population is stable. They most often eat small mammals such as mice, moles, and squirrels. They will also hunt lizards, insects, worms, and even small birds. Owls are very quiet hunters and glide silently through the night to sneak up on their prey. Owls do not digest the bones and fur of animals they eat. These indigestible parts form into small masses called pellets, which are regurgitated 6-10 hours after eating. Sometimes you can find owl pellets on the forest floor. Keep your ears open at night for owls this winter!

Fun Fact: Many people believe that owls rotate their neck 360, but they can only rotate it 270, which is about of the way around. A special blood pooling system works to continue pumping blood to the brain and eyes when circulation is cut off from turning their necks.
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