Rather than rely on our perceptions of the WRWA, this year we chose to ask Westporters and long-time WRWA supporters about the activities and values we represent. What follows is a summary of those impressions, gratifying to be sure, but also a sobering reminder of the tasks and projects that lie ahead. As you ponder your support of the WRWA, please refer to these sentiments about our important role in the community.
Steve Fors—Town Moderator, boater and fisherman:
When asked what, in his opinion, is the WRWA’s greatest contribution, Steve responded, “Natural resources can’t speak for themselves, so someone has to. The WRWA gives voice to those resources that are so important to Westport. At first I thought the Alliance treads too gently. But after living here for a while I realized the organization’s wisdom in not bullying or bull-dozing an agenda. You encourage partnerships to find solutions.” Another of Dr. Fors’ comments about the WRWA: “the Herring Ditch project was dear to my heart. I remember waking at 4 am sitting by the ditch with a fox and raccoon joining me to wait for the herring that I used for bait.”
Aidan Corey—13-year old Westport student and participant in both WEP and WRWA summer programs:
Aidan has participated in WRWA summer programs since he was 7 and is perhaps the most enthusiastic participant on record. At Bakers Beach one summer afternoon he struck up a conversation with (unbeknownst to him) the WRWA Executive Director on all of the creatures he was collecting. When asked how he knew so much, Aidan replied, “I go to watershed camp!” When asked how he found out about the program, he mentioned that the school told him and had it posted. Ever since, he has been consumed with the desire to know more about the river and fish. During our meeting he told us, “I love to watch the fish populations in the river. They are important to our lives around here. So many people are boating and using the river, building houses. They have to know about the birds, plants, and fish.” Aidan’s mom refers to him as, “The man on the river.”
Charlotte Metcalf—long-time resident and major supporter of the River Road Herring Run Restoration project:
Ms. Metcalf has been coming to Westport for a long time. When asked about the WRWA’s importance to the community and the River, she told of her appreciation for our attention to science, our neighborly way, and the WRWA’s connection of the community through conversation and collaboration. “What really made me happy was to be a part of the herring ditch project. I was impressed by the collaboration with the different silent partners of the Alliance, the Department of Fisheries, the careful engineering follow through, and also the Town of Westport.” Charlotte went on to say, “the WRWA provides a sense of community, the place that brings people together to create an alliance to move forward protection of what is special.” She commented on her amazement that the watershed to which we owe our name covers more than 100 square-miles.
Ralph and Calla Guild— long time Harbor residents and WRWA supporters:
Like many Westport residents, Ralph and Calla Guild first learned about our community while visiting friends. When asked about the most important contribution the WRWA makes, Mr. Guild responded: “By bringing people together in small groups to learn about the River and what we can do to support it.” He went on to tell of a neighbor who long ago invited him to such a gathering and suggested that he support the WRWA. When Ralph asked his host why that was important, he was told, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” Mr. Guild reports that he remembers that advice, verbatim, to this day.
Russ Beede Family— long time Harbor residents and WRWA supporters:
Russ and his family have been Westporters for many years. He was one of the first officers of the then nascent Westport River Defense Fund. He recalls being intrigued by the idea of placing signs on Town roads everywhere a stream flows through a culvert under a road. According to Russ, “It seemed that reminding everyone that the watershed includes much more than just the Westport River was a good idea, and that even small activities far from the River can affect the entire habitat.” The rest, as they say, is history. With the aid of an intern who researched the tributaries and met with neighbors to learn names of a few, Russ spearheaded and supported the project that reminds us every day how vast and complex the Westport River watershed is.
Senator Mike Rodriques and State Representative Paul Schmid—
The WRWA is fortunate to be represented in the State House by Senator Mike Rodriques and State Representative Paul Schmid, both of whom have consistently and passionately supported our mission of protecting and improving water quality in the Westport River watershed. As a state legislator, Mike said “the WRWA is well-known and recognized throughout the Commonwealth as a strong voice on environmental issues as they relate to water quality. That reputation is a big help to me as a legislator, particularly on South Coast issues.” Paul, remembering the River fifty years ago, commented about how many families made their living scalloping and fishing. “If the WRWA could do just one thing,” Paul said, “it should make the working River a place that can again contribute economically to the region.”