Local Students Help with Dune Restoration Project

November 5, 2012

Five local schools fromFall River,Westport, and Dartmouth have participated in a field study exploring the dunes at Cherry & Webb Beach in partnership with the Westport River Watershed Alliance.  The field study was part of the Dune Restoration Project, which was run for the twelfth time this year.

Students learned about the unique plants of the dune ecosystem and planted approximately 2,000 American beach grass seedlings in an ongoing effort to restore an eroded section of the dunes.  Participants were able to observe the results of the work classes did in year’s past.  More than half the plants survived and have grown and taken root in the sand.  The beach grass planting builds on a dune restoration effort that was begun by local Westport resident Mr. Ben Guy over 30 years ago.

The students traveled to four different teaching stations led by Watershed Alliance staff and volunteers, where they learned about dune ecology and the unique plants found there.  The goal of the project is to not only teach students natural science, but also to build a sense of stewardship among the students for the special natural communities found inWestport.   

The Dune Restoration Project is part of the Westport River Watershed Alliance’s (WRWA) Watershed Education Program (WEP).  Classes from Pre- K through High School participate in the WEP program.  Each year students 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. 

Funding for the Dune Restoration Project was made possible from a Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  B-WET is an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, experiential learning in the K-12 environment.  Special thanks are also extended to foundations that support our WEP program:  Helen Ellis Charitable Trust, Van Sloun Family Foundation, Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence Trust, and BayCoast Bank.

WRWA’s mission is to restore, protect, celebrate, and sustain the natural resources of the WestportRiverand its watershed which encompasses six towns:  Dartmouth, Fall River, Freetown, and Westportin Massachusetts, and Little Compton and Tiverton in Rhode Island.  WRWA accomplishes its goal of protecting the watershed through education, advocacy, community outreach and direct investment in watershed improvement projects.   For further information on WRWA, please contact the office staff at (508) 636-3016 or visit www.westportwatershed.org.

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