Summer is coming!

River News - June 2016
River Day is Saturday

River Day will take place this Saturday, June 4th, at the Town Landing at the historic Head of Westport, at the intersection of Drift Road and Old County Road. This event is free and open to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. River Day will feature exhibits, demonstrations and vendors. Over 30 exhibitors and vendors have signed up for this year's event! Make sure to come inside the tent to see what's happening with many of our regional non-profits, as well as some local farmers and environmental vendors.

For ease of parking and traffic safety, a free shuttle service will be provided by Whaling City Transit, from the Middle School parking lot on Old County Road. It will make frequent trips to and from the Head throughout the day.

The Gnomes fuse its dynamic folk-rock edge with original tunes and a wide-ranging repertoire that spans the globe - Celtic, Scandinavian, Eastern European, Asian, African, Caribbean, Klezmer, and Native American. They combine their varied and extensive musical backgrounds into arrangements that have been described as "exotic, fresh, and unique."

The Spindle Rock River Rats take their name from the Spindle Rock Club on the Westport River, the site of some their
earliest performances.  The Rats play an eclectic blend of bluegrass, old-time, folk, popular, Western and fiddle tunes.  They play instruments found in old-time string bands and modern bluegrass bands, but their repertoire is not limited to those genres.
Schedule of Events - Free all day:
  • Shuttle to and from Middle School
  • Fish T-shirt printing
  • Face Painting
  • Small Boat Building
  • Stilt building
  • Exhibits & Demonstrations
  • Food and drinks available for purchase
  • 10 a.m. Historic Tour of Head of Westport (starts at Bell School House)
  • 10:30 Live Raptor Show
  • Noon-River Day Poster Awards
  • 12:15 The Gnomes on stage
  • 12:30 May Pole
  • 1:00 & 2 pm Native American Re-enactment by Donna Mitchell
  • 1:45 Spindle Rock River Rats on stage
  • All day: tour WRWA's future River Center at the "Head Garage"
Free parking and shuttle provided by Whaling City Transit at Middle School.
June is National Rivers Month, and WRWA is holding a special Membership Drive during the month. This is a great time to renew membership, or join, with half-priced memberships offered to first-time members on River Day.
River Center Update
Gay Gillespie, Development Director

"I have been taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy." - Marie Curie

You may be wondering why you have seen little activity at the River Center.The number of hurdles that we have encountered as we move forward to putting "a shovel in the ground" at the River Center site are myriad and very complex, often requiring repeated appearances before each town board that must sign off on the project. To date we have successfully obtained Site Plan Approval from the Planning Board; and positive response from the Community Preservation Committee and the Westport Historical Commission.

Looking forward we still need a finding from the Zoning Board of Appeals for a "change of use" from the past permitted use, which was for motor vehicle sales at an existing motor vehicle repair shop. Since 1981 other uses have occurred without ZBA approval.  Additionally we are seeking a special permit as the project is in the Aquifer Protection District. Lastly we are seeking acceptance of the 2-story addition to the east to facilitate ADA accessibility and a composting toilet system. That hearing is scheduled for June 29 at 7pm.

Once this hurdle has been surmounted, we need approval from the Board of Health for our wastewater treatment plan. It includes 4 composting toilets and a gray water treatment system, both of which will have zero nitrogen discharge. The composting toilets will be self-contained in the building with contracted annual maintenance. The gray water, estimated to be less than 25 gallons a week, will irrigate a "living wall" of plants from the mezzanine to the 2nd floor.

The Conservation Commission, we hope is our final permitting requirement. Because the River Center is an existing structure in river front jurisdiction, we need a variance for construction, as will all site plan improvements that fall under the auspices of the Landing Commission.

The River Center project is unique. It is an existing structure owned by WRWA on town-owned land and it is also a public boat landing. It had a water supply but no evidence of a septic system. It is an historic building but not listed on the historic registry. In past years, the Head of Westport was a neglected part of Westport. The River Center is the last homage to that past. Today the Head is a thriving neighborhood with lovely restored homes, and 2 successful businesses. We are thrilled to be relocating to this vibrant community on the river.

Baywatchers Needed for the Westport River
Roberta Carvalho, Science Director
Every year we work with the Buzzards Bay Coaltion to test the Westport River's ecological health. This is done with the Baywatchers, who are local residents that love the water and want to do their part to protect it. These "citizen scientists" go out one morning per week in summer to test key aspects of the water's health. Since the program began in 1992, hundreds of local residents have volunteered as Baywatchers, testing the waters of Buzzards Bay.
Please contact Roberta Carvalho ([email protected]) if you would like to help with testing. We have 2 sites that need to be sampled (at the wharf in Westport Point and at the mouth of the River near Charlton wharf). As part of volunteering, Baywatchers must:
  • Commit to monitoring at your designated location one morning a week from May to September.
  • Attend a training to learn how to collect water samples.
  • Follow instructions in the Baywatchers kit to ensure accurate measurements.
  • Be comfortable working on docks, piers, beaches, and boat ramps at the water's edge.
Each week, Baywatchers measure the following parameters: Dissolved oxygen, Temperature, Salinity, Water clarity.  All data collection and analysis is conducted in accordance with a Quality Assurance Project Plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. For more information visit the Buzzards Bay Coalition's website:
Sponsor Spotlight  - Lafrance Hospitality
Lafrance Hospitality Company is the co-sponsor for the Tom Rush concert at Westport River's Vineyard on Saturday, July 16, celebrating the Westport River Watershed Alliance's 40th Anniversary. The event honors the WRWA and their efforts in protecting, sustaining, and celebrating the Westport River and its watershed since 1976.

Sponsoring the event is a natural fit for Lafrance Hospitality Company, who recently celebrated their own 60th anniversary in 2015. With familial roots and a core of their business units in Westport, Lafrance Hospitality Company understands the importance of being good stewards and the impact of organizations such as WRWA who strive to protect and conserve the natural resources of the Westport River and its watershed.
"We are grateful to have the opportunity to support a local organization who works so hard to protect and advocate for the conservation of natural resources in our area, and who serves as a role model for other organizations to do the same," says Richard Lafrance, President/CEO, Lafrance Hospitality Company. "We support Westport Rivers Watershed Alliance through event sponsorships and by donating food for their annual River Day and Summer Gala."

Lafrance Hospitality Company is a multi-faceted and family owned organization with corporate offices in Westport, MA. The company owns and operates fourteen hotel properties throughout New England and Florida, including the Hampton Inn Fall River/Westport and the Fairfield Inn & Suites in New Bedford. They own three restaurants, Ten Cousins Brick Oven, The Galley Grille at White's of Westport, and Bittersweet Farm, all located in Westport, and five function facilities, including White's of Westport and Rachel's Lakeside, from Westport to Wareham. Their vision is to be the premier hospitality company by employing the very best people, trained and empowered, to deliver a quality product with sensational service to every guest, every time.
Reaghan Tripp
WRWA Merit Scholarship Goes to Reaghan Tripp
This year's WRWA merit award scholarship winner is Westport High School senior Reaghan Tripp. Reaghan was chosen for her
academic excellence and her deep concern for the state of our global environment, as she pursues her studies in the science field. "Reaghan offers great hope for the future health of our planet," said Shelli Costa, WRWA Education Director.

The Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) offers a $1000 merit award for graduating high school seniors living in the
watershed area.

The merit award offers an opportunity for WRWA to honor a student who has demonstrated their commitment to
protecting our watershed environment. The Merit Award was created to celebrate the lives of William and Ruth Heath and Margo C. Boote. William and Ruth Heath were committed to environmental issues and protection of the natural world, as well as to social justice and global peace and harmony. Margo C. Boote was very involved in her community and the world around her. She portrayed her active commitment to the environmental mission in her actions, and also had a deep spiritual connection with the environment, as shown in her poetry.
Becky Buchanan and Shannon Choquette are completing their year at WRWA
Two Commonwealth Corps Positions Open at Watershed Alliance
The Westport River Watershed Alliance is seeking two full time Commonwealth Corps volunteers to serve as Environmental Educators. The Commonwealth Corps volunteers will deliver our Watershed Education Programs to children in grades PreK-12, and launch additional weekend student and family education programs.

Commonwealth Corps volunteers with the Westport River Watershed Alliance will serve 10.5 months in a full-time capacity. Applicants should be Massachusetts residents and have a desire to put their talents and ideas to use in the service of their communities and the Commonwealth.

The mission of the Commonwealth Corps is to engage Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism. Members will serve in a stipended full-time capacity from 8/15/16 - 6/24/17. Benefits include a focus on member training and development, as well as a bi-weekly stipend, a completion award, an inspiring network of fellow members, and other supports. Anyone interested in applying for the position should email a cover letter, resume and three references to Shelli Costa, [email protected]. For a full description, please visit our website:

A few more places 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.  Week of July 25-29. 
Children discover marine life, create eco-crafts, learn about coastal habitats and enjoy games on the beach. The 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. $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: or call 508-636-3016.

The Cycle of the Antler
Shannon Choquette, Commonwealth Corps Service Member

Whitetail deer are the most common species of deer found in Massachusetts; their numbers are abundant in the state and their range includes both Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Deer are flexible within their environment, as they enjoy a variety of habitats including forest-edges, wetlands, abandoned pasture fields, and suburban areas. Deer are herbivores and their diet changes throughout the year, given what's available. They sustain themselves during the winter on tree bark, twigs, evergreen needles, and tree buds. In the spring they enjoy green leaves, and in the late summer and fall they add fruit and acorns to their diet. Deer are very sensitive to the time of year, not only because of food availability. The seasons also control the growth of antlers and their mating behaviors.

In this region of Massachusetts, male deer are the only animal which has antlers. Antlers also grow on other members of the deer family, like moose, elk, and caribou. The antlers, which are made of bone, fall off and grow back every year, a process which has been discovered to be controlled by day length. In essence, the length of day promotes this change by causing hormonal changes within the deer.
Male deer are born and develop small bumps on their heads where the antlers will form. Antler growth usually begins in April or May, when increasing amounts of sunlight cause testosterone levels to increase in males. The small bumps receive the signal to begin developing antlers, which can grow at a rate of � inch per day (one of the fastest growing body parts in any animal!). The young antlers begin as soft, spongy growths are covered in a "velvet," or soft hairy tissue. In order to protect their developing antlers, which have many blood vessels, males are often solitary or live in small bachelor groups and are less active.

As the day length begins to shorten in the late summer, testosterone levels again increase and cause the antlers to harden. The blood vessels are no longer needed for growth, so they close, which causes the velvet covering to fall off and expose the bone underneath. The antlers will assist the male deer during the rut (mating season), which occurs in October and November. When the length of the day is at its shortest in December, testosterone levels decrease and the signal is received for the antlers to all off. A breaking point forms at the base of the antler, which causes the antler to fall off naturally over time. All that remains are the small bumps on the deer's skull, which will serve to produce antlers numerous times throughout the life of the deer. These fallen antlers are important components of the deer's habitat; once they fall off, the marrow is often consumed by mice and other small animals, giving them essential nutrients in the winter.
Upcoming Events
OPEN HOUSE at new River Center Thursday, June 30 & Thursday, July 21
Join us for wine & cheese at our soon-to-be headquarters and River Center. Take a look at our plans and drawings, and tour the building as we make final preparations for renewal and renovation!
July 16: Tom Rush Concert at the Westport Rivers Vineyard - see details below.

August 13
Summer Gala - invitations to be sent to WRWA members soon!

August 20
Livingston Taylor Concert at Town Farm August 20 - Well-known singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor will perform at Westport Town Farm on Saturday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. Admission $20 at the gate. Bring a picnic, lawn chairs or blanket, sit back and enjoy the show! This is a cooperative event with the Westport Land Conservation Trust.

Tickets on Sale for WRWA 40th Anniversary Concert with Tom Rush
Please come to our 40th Anniversary celebration concert on July 16, withTom Rush at the Westport Rivers Vineyard, co-presented with the Narrows Center for the Arts and sponsored by Lafrance Hospitality and Andy Paige Style.
For more information, visit, or
Tickets are on sale now.
Or contact Steve at [email protected] or 508-636-3016.
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.
Save Your Lees Market Receipts
Lees Market gives 1% of the receipt total to the community charities.  If you shop at Lees, please save your slips for us, the proceeds goes toward all our programs and projects that protect the River.  Lees Market grocery receipts can be dropped off at our office.  Thank you for helping and shopping at Lees!
Corporate Sponsors

MCC Logo

F.L. Tripp and Sons
Lees Oil Service

Westport River Watershed Alliance | 508-636-3016 |

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