Because the WFA has had a long history of partnering with the Coalition and the two organization’s missions are well aligned, a merge seemed like a natural fit. When WFA Board President Jack Reynolds approached the Coalition about the idea of a merger, he was met with an enthusiastic yes, and negotiations proceeded smoothly.
“The needs of the river as far as water quality and habitat issues are no less than when we started and will continue to be an ongoing challenge as the town builds out and pressure increases,” said Reynolds. “Combining efforts with another similarly focused organization will provide greater impact, increase capacity and ensure sustainable advocacy and solutions are brought to bear on the river’s problems.”
The Coalition has pledged that its advocacy, science, restoration, and land protection work in Westport will remain focused on reducing nitrogen pollution, primarily from residential wastewater, as well as restoring and protecting habitat for native migratory fish such as river herring and salter brook trout in the Westport River and its tributaries.
“Over the past thirty years, the Coalition has worked hand-in-hand with the Westport Fishermen’s Association on advocacy efforts to clean up pollution sources, protect wetlands, and preserve native fish habitat,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “We are honored to carry on this legacy of action and willingness to take on the tough challenges facing the river.”
As part of the merger, WFA President Jack Reynolds will join the Coalition’s Board of Directors for a three-year term. Two other WFA board members will be appointed to the Coalition’s Leadership Council in the coming year.
The Coalition will assume responsibility for staffing and caring for the historic Horseneck Point Life-Saving Station, adding the site to its network of educational centers and conservation reserves across the region. The Life-Saving Station tells the story of the Bay’s treacherous entrance and the history of oil spills and accidents that have driven recent successes in environmental protection on the Bay.