Neighbors Form Nonprofit to Protect Bass River

SOUTH YARMOUTH – A new non-profit organization has formed to protect the Bass River.

Friends of Bass River is dedicated to protecting the ecosystem, ponds, coves and sub-basins of the estuarine system which is currently being affected by increasing nitrogen levels.

The river is one of the Cape Cod’s largest waterways and passes through Yarmouth, Dennis and Harwich.

The nonprofit was formed by three neighbors who share a lifelong love for the waterway: Bob Churchill, DeWitt Davenport and Mark Anschutz.

“We felt that it is time to give back and to make it so that other generations can enjoy the beautiful estuary that we have here in South Yarmouth and West Dennis,” said Davenport.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, water sample taken in the estuary did not meet the minimum guidelines of the federal Clean Water Act. Massachusetts Division of Environmental Protection began evaluating the water quality of the watershed and high levels of nitrogen were from 2004 through 2008.

Last November, the state drafted recommendations for the river, which needs a 47 percent reduction in nitrogen to get back to the federal standard.

“The three of us, who are on the river almost every single day during the warmer months, decided we should do something about it and not rely on government or a town agency to do something,” Davenport said. “We felt that we could move more quickly and start this little non-profit in an effort to educate, get collaboration and ultimately preserve the quality of the river.”

Friends of Bass River is going to work to achieve behavioral change by educating users of the waterway on the best practices of pumping septic systems to cleaning boats.

“We feel that we can start chipping away at a result instantly that is not cost prohibit and we feel that is the first step in a long process to improve the quality of the river,” Davenport said.

Davenport says Friends of Bass River will first raise funds to bring in an executive director before expanding its base while educating the public.

“Everyone has to realize how fragile that estuary is and that they can make a difference,” Davenport said.

More information and resources about the organization can be found at


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