Message from Executive Director Deborah Weaver
It's time to renew your membership! Where would we be without your investment in protecting this beloved estuary? Your contribution fuels our mission to restore, protect and celebrate the watershed; and it helps us educate the next generation about the importance of sustaining it.
We have been wildly busy and hard at work after adding two great staff members who have broadened our capacity and enabled positive change in other WRWA roles. The engagement of two volunteers from the Mass. Commonwealth Corps program has expanded and enlivened our education and afterschool programs. We just heard that we have been selected to host two more members for next year which is a great vote of confidence in a highly competitive process.
Ongoing WRWA Advocacy, Education and Science activities and initiatives continue to provide high quality, well-researched programs and advisory services to the Town and the watershed community. Our education programs inspire and ignite our future stewards.
2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Westport River Watershed Alliance. Please renew your membership today and be a part of this transformative and important year! Thank you for your support.
River Center Update
We have been making steady progress in our design and permitting phase of our River Center project. With spring upon us now, things are moving a bit more quickly. WRWA has hired The Horsley & Witten Group to design the gray water and self-contained composting toilet system. This design will be innovative with the goal of adding no nitrogen or other pollutants to the river environment.
Both the Historic District Commission and Community Preservation Committee have responded positively to our architectural designs for the old Head Garage. The interior space and office layout, which feature a living wall, are in the final stages of design. Our science and education staffs have come up with exciting ideas for our public exhibition space, and we are consulting with nationally-renowned Main Street Design to turn our visions into reality. Our aim is to provide students and visitors with a compelling experience of the Watershed, and to carry our mission of celebrating and protecting our wonderful resource forward well into the future.
We still have a few more presentations to make to get the necessary approvals from town boards and committees to begin our renovations, and we are very happy to report that the fundraising for the project is going well.
Thank you to all who have supported us. We look forward putting a shovel in the ground this fall!
Advocacy Director Betsy White Makes
Career Move to a New Environmental Job
Betsy White, Advocacy Director at WRWA, will be leaving us April 20th for a new Job at the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, as their Storm Water Specialist. Betsy first came to WRWA part-time in 2009, working with Science Director Roberta Carvalho on a grant proposal for a bacterial TMDL for the Westport River. She was then hired to direct the Wild and Scenic Designation initiative, and from there became Advocacy Director. She has been involved in a number of projects such as storm water remediation grants, rain garden plantings, septic system legislation, culvert replacements, the Massachusetts Estuary Project, the Bread and Cheese Brook Study, and the Ponds Project. She has worked closely with the Town of Westport boards and committees to promote watershed protection and best practices.
One of her favorite collaborations has been working closely with the Westport Highway Department to incorporate environmental best practices into many of their infrastructure projects. Betsy has also worked to promote and advance collaborative community projects with groups and individuals that all share a commitment to the health of the Westport River Watershed. One such project, has been the study of Cockeast Pond, which has brought together residents, scientists, students, and local and state organizations and groups.
"I have worked with many wonderful people while here at the Watershed Alliance, people with a passion about where they live and how to protect it. The organization is lucky to have such a wonderful staff that really care about what they are doing and bring extensive expertise to the work they do. WRWA is also sustained by generous and engaged members who understand the value of preserving such an important resource as the Westport River and its watershed. I would like to thank all those who have supported and encourage me over the years. I have very much enjoyed working in the organization, and I intend to remain connected with WRWA, the
"We will miss Betsy very much here at WRWA," said Executive Director Deborah Weaver. "This is a great opportunity for her, and we wish her all the best."
members, and staff as much as possible."
Last Call! WRWA Photo Contest
The Watershed Alliance has revived photo contest for the 2017 calendar. We are looking for a few more landscape and nature photos that show the unique beauty and diversity of the Westport River watershed (i.e. the river, streams, wildlife, plants, etc.) Photos from all seasons are being sought. Please limit to 10 photos per person.
Certain image criteria must be met for the image to be used in the calendar:
- Pictures should be submitted as JPGs.
- Image size should be no smaller than 10 x 8 inches (pixel dimension 3000 x 2400). Image resolution should be 300 dpi or greater, file size 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 [email protected]
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.
April Showers - Let it Soak In
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
Have you ever noticed water flowing down the street when it rains? Have you ever wondered where the water flows to? Have you thought about what's in the water? When it rains onto a forest or a field, some of that rain is absorbed by the ground, replenishing groundwater that is used by many for drinking water. Some of the rain is taken up by plants, and some of it simply evaporates. But very little of the rain flows over the ground. In a more developed setting, such as our cities and towns, rain falls onto pavement, or other surfaces such as roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways that don't allow the water to be absorbed by the ground.
The water that you see flowing down the street is called stormwater runoff, April showers bring May flowers, but how do you deal with all that rain in the meantime? Currently, many local towns are working to reduce the effects of polluted stormwater runoff, which is the water you see flowing down the street when it rains. One easy way that residents of the community can help is by diverting rooftop runoff away from pavement.
The amount of rain that flows off an average roof, over the course of a year, would fill more than 500 bathtubs? Instead of allowing that rain to flow down your driveway or sidewalk to the nearest storm drain, it's possible to divert the rain in at least three ways:
- Consider using downspout extenders to direct the water onto a landscaped area.
- Purchase a rain barrel, and direct downspout water directly into it. You'll not only reduce stormwater, but you can conserve water by using what you capture for irrigation.
- Investigate a rain garden, which is a natural or hand-dug shallow depression designed to soak up water. Rain gardens are created with highly absorbent soil and the proper mix of plants to facilitate collecting water and infiltrating it back into the ground. Click here for great ideas on how to make your land soak up the rain: http://soaknh.org/soak-project-steps/
Registration Open for WRWA's Summer Coastal Ecology Programs
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is again offering a fun, hands-on summer science
program for kids ages 3-16.
River Rats - ages 3-6.
(accompanied by an adult)
Wednesdays (at Gooseberry) July 6 & August 17
Thursdays (Cherry & Webb Beach) July 7 and August 18, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Each session will feature an hour at the beach. Hands-on investigations, activities, games and crafts
will help participants learn about animals at the beach.
Cost: $8 members, &10 nonmembers
The Coastal ExplorersProgram - 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,$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 is $180 for members and $220 for
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
Alewife - The River Herring
Rebecca Buchanan, Commonwealth Corps Service Member
The alewife is a species of herring that is found in North America. They have somewhat lighter bellies than the sea herring, and alewives have sharp scales on their bellies. Sometimes alewives are called "sawbellies" because of these rough scales. They are found along the East Coast, and in the Great Lakes. It is believed alewives were able to reach the Great Lakes because of canal building in the late 1800's. They range from 10-16 inches in length, and weigh about � a pound. Alewives are anadromous, which means that they live their adult lives in the ocean, but spawn in freshwater. They must migrate to freshwater streams, ponds, and rivers during the spring. Salmon are also famous for this behavior. Alewives feed on
planktonic organisms like copepods, shrimps, and sometimes eat small fish. Alewives are used as bait fish for cod and haddock, and they are also marketed as food.
Alewife populations are in decline due to habitat destruction, overfishing, and building of dams. When boats trawl for Atlantic herring, many river herring are caught as bycatch. Here in Westport, the herring run at Cockeast Pond has been threatened due to eroding marshes and algal blooms. The falling marshes and rocks fill the channel, leaving many obstacles for the alewives to swim through. The thick algae in the stream can also obstruct the migration of the fish. In February, WRWA supported a project to find a solution for the erosion problem. As a team, Westport Fish Commissioner Everett Mills and Steve Burns from the Bristol County Mosquito Control guided an excavator driver to move rubble and slightly deepened the channel to allow the fish to swim through. This will help promote successful spawning for the alewives. In addition to conservation projects, there is also a statewide ban on the harvesting of river herring in Massachusetts.
Alewives are not the only creatures that migrate back to the Westport area during the warmer months. Other species include osprey, hummingbirds, and humpback whales.
Dune Hike Saturday, May 14
Join WRWA for a hike through the dunes of the Cherry & Webb Conservation area. Our educators will be on hand to point out the interesting flora and the geologic features that make this area special. 10 a.m. Email [email protected] to sign up and for more information.
April 20: Electronics Recycling
April 23: Beach Clean-up
June 4: River Day
July 16: Tom Rush Concert
August 13: Summer Gala
August 20: Livingston Taylor Concert
Tickets on Sale for WRWA 40th Anniversary Concert with Tom Rush
Tickets are on sale now.
Concert Information: Saturday, July 16, 6-8 p.m. Gates open at 5:00.
Rain Date: July 17.
Matt Nokoa performs with Tom Rush.
Ticket prices: $40 WRWA Members, $50 non-members.
Don't wait! This concert is expected to sell out.