Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Getting to know your local Wild & Scenic Rivers

By Rachel Calabro, Narragansett Bay RiverKeeper

The Taunton River is the only major coastal river in our region that has no dams or obstructions over its entire length. In this estuary, the tide rises and falls for over 18 miles of the river’s length making it home to rare plants and habitats that exist in this freshwater tidal environment. The watershed is one of the most diverse and intact coastal ecosystems in Southern New England. Because of its scenic beauty and important habitats, the Taunton River was designated by Congress as a Partnership Wild & Scenic River in 2009.

The National Park Service started the Partnership Wild & Scenic Rivers program as a way to manage special rivers that are not owned by the federal government. These rivers are designated for their scenic, historic and recreational values, as well as important natural elements such as biodiversity, fisheries, and unique geologic features. These outstandingly remarkable values are regionally significant and make these rivers a high priority for protection. The rivers are managed jointly by the National Park Service and a local stewardship council made up of representatives from the local communities. There are currently 13 designated rivers in eight states covering more than 700 river miles.

At the end of 2014, a bill was passed in Congress to study the rivers in the Wood-Pawcatuck River watershed for potential designation. Before rivers are designated, they go through a three year study period where a committee is formed to review and identify outstandingly remarkable values. The Wood-Pawcatuck study committee began meeting in November, 2015 and will be working to identify important resources, both natural and cultural, throughout the watershed. The Wood-Pawcatuck watershed also includes the Beaver, Queen and Chipuxet Rivers in Rhode Island and the Shunnock and Green Falls Rivers in Connecticut.  Information can be found on the study website

The Wood-Pawcatuck River watershed is home to the largest natural fresh water lake in Rhode Island, as well as large areas of swamps and bogs that were formed as part of the glacial terrain of Southern New England. The study committee will be learning about the rare species of fish, plants and birds that are present in the watershed, and about opportunities to preserve and restore important natural habitats.

Since its designation in 2009, the Taunton River Stewardship Council has been working throughout the watershed to increase recreational opportunities, protect riverfront land, and restore habitats. Several dam removal projects have been completed or are under way, and a new state park has been created. The Taunton River Pathways project has been developed to highlight both walking, biking and canoe trails. This summer will be a great time to get out and explore both of these local natural treasures and experience what itmeans to be Wild & Scenic.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why do we swim? For the love of a sister - Joanne Sadlowski

By Cindy Sabato, Director of Communications

Joanne Burrows Sadlowski is coming home from Texas this summer for the Save The Bay Swim. She spends time here every summer, but this summer is special: she’s swimming for her sister-in-law, Alice Burrows.

After an unknown disease crept into her body years ago and began to steadily degrade her mobility, strength and peace of mind, Alice, 55, was finally diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer in December. With the support of friends and family members, she’s now undergoing rigorous chemotherapy that will last the rest of her life.

As a little girl, Alice’s Pawtucket family spent their summers at beaches all over the state, swimming, fishing, and picnicking; she passed that tradition on to her own children. She married her husband by the Point Judith Light House, and before she got sick, they often sat at Rocky Point looking out over the water or riding bikes along the East Providence bike path with the Bay at their side. “From my house in Narragansett, I hear the waves crashing on the shore. I guess we have always gravitated to the beautiful Rhode Island waters,” Alice said.

“Alice is my beach buddy. We sit and talk about all of life’s problems while tucked under a beach umbrella watching the ocean. I can’t calculate the number of hours we’ve spent together on the beach. We both love Narragansett Bay,” said Joanne, who only recently resumed swimming after taking years off to raise her children. “One day, I was paddling along, and thought, ‘what if I do the Save The Bay Swim, and do it in Alice’s honor?’”

Alice, of course, was in. “It is so important to preserve the beauty and life of our Bay so our children’s children can continue to enjoy it and experience the same fun we did as children. I am so proud of Joanne. I could never do what she will be doing in August. I will be living vicariously through her.” 

The 40th Save The Bay Swim will be Joanne’s fourth. The difference between this one and her first three, she says, “is about 24 years,” which means she’s kicking up her training a notch. “If I am tired and don’t feel like working out, I think of Alice. She is always so positive. If she can force herself to go to chemotherapy, I can force myself to go to the pool.” 
“I am so excited for this swim. In the past, I loved swimming halfway across and taking a minute to look up at the Newport bridge, and seeing all the people swimming for this great cause. These are some of the best memories in my life,” Joanne said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Guest Blog: The Pell School Gets Hands-on with Save The Bay

By Jen Hole, Pell Elementary School, Third Grade Teacher

Third-grade teachers at Pell School, Jen Hole, Jeannine Walsh, Kathleen Breede, Kate O'Neill, Kim Hassan, Audrey Boisvert, Claire Mey, and Terry Mey, have once again teamed up with the incredible educational team from Save The Bay, lead by Adam Kovarsky. Thanks to an $8,000 grant Jen Hole received from the Rhode Island Foundation for the third grade team at Pell, Save The Bay has been able to come into the school to work with the students. Third-grade teachers and staff at Save The Bay have been working together for many years to help bring the conservation efforts involving Narragansett Bay and the beautiful natural resources of Aquidneck Island to the students in Newport.

Later this year, third-grade teachers will be taking their classes to First Beach to work with Save The Bay to continue restoring the dunes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Teachers will also be taking their classes to Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge to explore the beautiful coastline habitat. Newport educators are always looking for ways to make learning come alive, and give all students the opportunity to discover the beauty of their community! (Blog

Third grader, Grace Lautar, seeing the world as a
horseshoe crab would.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why do we swim? To create memories

By Brittney Roy, Save The Bay Intern

Daniela Abbott, 34, has lived in Rhode Island for many years with her husband Branden and their children Bianca and Myles. Although Daniela grew up swimming in Brazil, and she and her husband have many friends who’ve done The Swim, they’ve never quite found the right reason to dive in themselves. Until now.

A diagnosis of ALS last fall for Daniela’s mother, Marcia Hansen, enticed Marcia and Daniela’s father Jeffrey to move from Minnesota to Portsmouth, R.I. to be closer to Daniela and her family and their son John Victor (JV). This year’s 40th Save The Bay Swim is meant to give the family a distraction from the changes that lie ahead for them all, to create beautiful new memories together, and to give the Hansens the best possible introduction to Narragansett Bay and their new home.

No novices to the waters, Daniela, Branden, and JV all grew up participating in aquatic adventures. Born and raised in Brazil, Daniela and JV began sailing as children and continued sailing out of Newport and Bristol as they grew older. Branden also grew up sailing, in Buffalo, N.Y. Naturally, they “hope to pass our love of the water onto our kids, who are just getting started with sailing as well,” says Daniela.

After 15 years living hundreds of miles apart, ALS have brought them closer together (literally) and give them a great reason to create exciting new memories together. In their very first Save The Bay Swim, Daniela and brother JV will swim the 1.7 nautical miles, with her husband and father kayaking alongside them. They call themselves Team Bonito, for the fast, native South Atlantic fish from the mackerel family, which also happens to mean “beautiful” in Portuguese.

“Mom is very excited that we are all doing it together and is looking forward to welcoming us at the finish!” says Daniela. “This is a good cause, and I hope to document the events with pictures, video, and stories and to share with others our experience as first-timers.”