our History

Save The Bay was founded in 1970 on the community’s desire to protect our most precious resource - Narragansett Bay. To do that, Save The Bay has focused on the development of a committed constituency for the Bay. Children and adults throughout this region have learned the tremendous value the Bay brings to our economy, our environment, and our quality of life.

In defense of Narragansett Bay and its watershed, Save The Bay has watched over the activities and programs of the government and the citizenry that degrade the environmental quality of the Bay, basin, and watershed. We provide educational opportunities for children and adults to explore the Bay, fostering an understanding and a sense of personal responsibility for the resource.

Our history is one of accomplishment for the Bay. Once choked by raw sewage and dying a slow death from industrial toxins, the Bay is now making a strong comeback. There is still room for improvement, but more people than ever before are able to swim, fish, sail, and enjoy the waters of Narragansett Bay. What follows is a timeline reflecting Save The Bay’s history and charting important milestones we have achieved toward protecting Narragansett Bay.

John Scanlon's 2008 Annual Meeting Address


  • Save The Bay's newest vessel, the M/V Elizabeth Morris is christened at Ft. Adam's State Park in Newport


  • Explore The Bay is selected by the US EPA to participate in the White House Summit on environmental education
  • Voter approval of Clean Water and Green Space Bond Referenda
  • Successfully pushed CRMC to undertake a Special Area Management Plan to address coastal erosion and hazards.


  • Save The Bay launches K.E.Y.S (Keep educating young scientists) campaign to support its Explore The Bay education program.
  • Save The Bay meets the grant match to begin building its second custom built education vessel M/V Elizabeth Morris.
  • Save The bay is instrumental in defeating the Hess LNG proposal
  • A record number of swimmers in the 35th STB swim (465)


  • Passage of bond referendum #4, which secured the shoreline at Rocky Point in Warwick, the "Shooters" parcel at India Point in Providence, and much-needed restoration of Fort Adams in Newport.
  • Explore The Bay holds its first Bay Partners graduation. A celebration of the Providence elementary schools who have had the Bay Partners program as part of their science education for the past 5 years. More than 250 5th grade students come to the Bay Center to celebrate their Bay Education.
  • Save The Bay learns of federal funding loss to support its Explore The Bay program.


  • Jonathan Stone takes the leadership helm as Save The Bay's 4th executive director.
  • John Scanlon, Save The Bay's first executive director, dies at age 82.
  • Save The Bay launches the Stop Hess LNG campaign, an historic effort to save Mount Hope Bay from the enormously destructive and short-sighted Hess LNG proposal.
  • After seven years of advocacy from Save The Bay and partner organizations, the Taunton River receives official federal protection under the Wild & Scenic program.
  • We celebrate the completion of three long-standing salt marsh restoration projects: Newport's Gooseneck Cove, Bristol's Silver Creek and Cranston's Stillhouse Cove.
  • In the sixth year of the Project Narragansett Teacher Academy, we introduce our 10,000th student to Narragansett Bay.
  • A record number of 1,641 volunteers collect 21,854 pounds of trash from our shorelines and communities.
  • Save The Bay plays a pivotal role in securing public funding to study and build support for a comprehensive wastewater management strategy on Aquidneck Island to improve water quality, swimming safety and the Island economy.
  • We conduct a benthic survey of Little Narragansett Bay to determine the feasibility of shellfish restoration in South County.
  • Explore The Bay works with every school in the Newport school district.
  • Explore The Bay is a partner in the development of Rhode Island’s Environmental Literacy Plan.
  • Explore The Bay establishes its afterschool program.
  • Save The Bay continues bay scallop restoration in the South County salt ponds
  • Save The Bay celebrates 10 years of eelgrass planting


  • Rhode Island's osprey license plate debuts, with proceeds funding the environmental education programs of Save The Bay and the Audubon Society.
  • Save The Bay actively particpates in getting No Child Left Inside passed by the House of Representatives. The NCLI act, sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed, is legislation that would allocate money to states with environmental literacy plans for students to participate in environmental education programs as well as fund professional development programs for teachers.
  • Save The Bay published the 2nd edition of its Uncommon Guide, updated and expanded to include South Coast species and habitat.


  • A 14-year long advocacy campaign by Save The Bay pays off as EPA and Brayton Point Power Station owners settle permit appeals and agree to build cooling towers. The plant, which uses up to one billion gallons of Bay water per day discharged at up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, was implicated in the collapse of fish populations in Mount Hope Bay in the 1980s. The new permit, strongly motivated by Save The Bay, ends the damaging practice of “once-through” cooling.
  • Thanks to the Forrest and Frances Lattner Foundation, Save The Bay establishes the Westerly Office and South County Coastkeeper program, a direct action and advocacy program serving Little Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island’s South Coast. The Coastkeeper provides a visible presence on-the-water and in the community to protect, restore, and promote stewardship of these unique and magnificent waterways. Like Narragansett Baykeeper, South County Coastkeeper is an official program of the international Waterkeeper Alliance
  • Explore The Bay works with Feinstein High School to provide every student with a Narragansett Bay experience. Each class came aboard Alletta Morris for a full day of marine science exploration that was then brought back into the classroom for further interpretation.
  • Save The Bay opposes a proposal by Hess LNG to construct a massive Liquefied Natural Gas terminal on the Taunton River in the city of Fall River. After years of permit hearings, legal wrangling, and appeals, in 2007, the US Coast Guard issues a finding that the project, as proposed, is unsuitable for the waterway. While Hess pledges to push on with the plan, the Coast Guard’s findings, supported by Save The Bay and a coalition of environmental groups and agencies, effectively ends this ill-conceived project. Save The Bay continues to fight for a federal Wild and Scenic Rivers designation for the Taunton River, which would further improve protection and stewardship of that outstanding resource.
  • Our MET school partnership expands to include internships. Three MET students join us for the school year, participating in their Learning Through Internship program.
  • Save the Bay begins active shellfish restoration with a 10,000 bay scallop project in Narragansett Bay.


  • We unveil "Our Living Bay" by Amy Bartlett Wright, a large-scale mural with 50-plus Bay creatures that becomes a teaching tool for our Bay Center classes
  • Save The Bay's seal cruises are voted "Best of Rhode Island."
  • Save The Bay opens its Newport-based Exploration Center and Aquarium -- an interactive marine science learning center for families and school groups interested in learning more about Narragansett Bay and its creatures.
  • We develop our MET school partnership, providing a marine science immersion program for the freshmen class. Students explore different facets of Narragansett Bay linked to the MET's school learning goals and Grade Span Expectations.
  • Save The Bay launches Girls in Science Camp, aimed at middle schoolers. The camp exposes girls to hands-on science in a supportive environment with great female role models.
  • Save the Bay and partners complete a bay-wide eelgrass mapping project-the first since 1996.


  • Save The Bay launches a successful campaign to support DEM permit modifications that would limit nitrogen discharge from the Fields Point, Bucklin Point, East Providence and Woonsocket treatment plants.
  • With a June 4 Inaugural Gala, we celebrate the opening of the Save The Bay Center, our new "green-design" home and education center at Fields Point.
  • In July, a record 380 swimmers participate in the 29th Save The Bay Swim.
  • We offer our Explore The Bay coastal and shipboard programs to homeschoolers.
  • The Save The Bay Center wins a prestigious Phoenix Award for brownfields development. This national award is known as “the Oscar” of brownfields development


  • After vigorous lobbying by Save The Bay, the General Assembly in June places into law the goal reducing nitrogen loading for the state’s wastewater treatment facilities by 50% by the year 2008. Passage of the Open Space Clean Water Bond in November provides funding for improving treatment plant. Excess nitrogen triggers a chain reaction of events in the Bay that reduce oxygen levels and lead to fish and clam kills.
  • Through our Ocean State Environmental Education Collaborative partnership, we welcome our first group of AmeriCorps volunteers. Working with Save The Bay staff, they provide supplemental education programs to urban schools and community groups.
  • The 28th Citizens Bank/Save The Bay Swim, featuring a record 374 swimmers, helps raise much-needed funds to support Save The Bay’s effort to protect, restore and educate people about Narragansett Bay and the threats to its health.
  • Some 75 volunteers work an estimated 450 hours to plant 15,000 plants at the Fields Point salt marsh. Students from the Ponaganset High School in Glocester took part in the restoration by planting salt marsh plants they had grown from seed in their greenhouse during the winter months.The students' plants are as large and healthy as those purchased from a commercial nursery.
  • Between May and August, Save The Bay plants 96,000 eelgrass shoots by hand! Eelgrass shoots are planted at three sites in North Kingstown (Sauga Point),Tiverton (Fogland Point), and Prudence Island (West). 24,000 shoots were grown from seed in tanks at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography’s mariculture facility. Our most successful transplant survival rates prove to be Prudence Island West (51%) and Sauga Point (68%).This season is our largest eelgrass planting to date and would not have been possible without volunteers who contribute 1,500 hours.
  • Save The Bay launches the Seagrass Society to honor individuals who remember us in their will.The Seagrass Society ensures the long-term financial health of Save The Bay.


  • In collaboration with Central Falls High School, Save The Bay develops Narragansett Bay Field Studies, a program offering 11th-graders a field-study approach to science education.
  • To protect Narragansett Bay's largest single source of fresh water, Save The Bay co-founds the Watershed Action Alliance, as well as the Southeastern Massachusetts Environmental Collaborative. Working with our coalition partners, we challenge a plan to withdraw millions of gallons of Taunton River per day for drinking water. We also advocate for federal designation of the Taunton River as a "Wild & Scenic River," so that federal laws will better protect the environmental and heritage values of the watershed.
  • Save The Bay fights successfully for a strong, new EPA permit for the Brayton Point Power Station, a major cause of the collapse of finfish populations. By providing agencies legal, scientific and technical information and support, plus a strong drumbeat of communications to the public, public officials, and media, Save The Bay builds a foundation for EPA's action.
  • In partnership with the Providence School District and the East Bay Educational Collaborative, we launch Project Narragansett, a marine-science professional development program for middle-school teachers aboard Alletta Morris. It's designed to enable teachers to convey to their students the excitement and grandeur of Narragansett Bay.
  • Baykeeper John Torgan, responds to dozens of citizens who turn to Save The Bay when the Bay is threatened, including pollution of Buckeye Brook in Warwick. One of our most spectacular herring runs, the brook and its fragile wetlands system were directly threatened by glycol, a de-icing chemical used on aircraft at T.F. Green Airport. Also, when Buzzards Bay was victimized by a major oil spill, the BayKeeper provides technical and tactical support to the Coalition for Buzzards Bay.
  • Save The Bay joins forces with the Environment Council of Rhode Island, Common Cause, and the Separation of Powers Task Force to win passage of a historic bill that will, with voter approval in November, end the practice of legislative appointments to, and service on, on state and quasi-public boards and commissions. These reforms will directly effect several major agencies whose activities directly impact Narragansett Bay and the environment.
  • We helped lead the charge in reversing an Assembly decision to cut DEM's water pollution control program, known as RIPDES (RI Pollution Discharge Elimination System) and hand it back to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • In the wake of a massive August clam and fish kill, Save The Bay mobilizes municipal officials and environmental groups, meets with key legislators, communicates with the federal government and the Carcieri administration, and generates strong media coverage.
  • Working with federal and state agencies and scores of volunteers - including RI Governor Donald Carcieri and First Lady Susan Carcieri - we continue our cutting-edge eelgrass efforts at three sites. Staff and volunteers monitor the transplant sites, test future sites and refine transplant techniques.
  • We continue to make progress in the restoration and management of salt marshes at Gooseneck Cove (Newport), Walker Farm, Allins Cove, and the Big Mussachuck and Little Mussachuck Creeks (Barrington). Save The Bay works with its many partners to conduct site evaluations, monitoring, training, and project coordination activities, while raising community awareness about the importance of salt marshes to Bay health.
  • Save The Bay develops Bay Partners, a partnership with the Providence School District, to bring science education into elementary schools. Partners include Mary Fogarty, George J. West, Asa Messer, Kennedy and Vartan Gregorian.
  • We support the Pawtuxet River Watershed Council's fish run restoration project on the Pawtuxet River. Save The Bay also works to secure funding for the Town of Rehoboth to develop a fish run restoration project at Shad Factory Pond


  • Utilizing Alletta Morris, our seal cruises move to Newport and, in partnership with Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation, include a tour of Rose Island Light.
  • Save The Bay advocates for tough new pollution limits for Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The plant's owner - PG&E - currently draws nearly 1 billion gallons per day of Mount Hope Bay water to cool its generators, and then discharges the water back into the Bay. This causes two serious impacts to Mount Hope Bay. Hundreds of millions of fish eggs and larvae are destroyed when the water is drawn into the plant. And the water is returned to the Bay at much higher-than-normal temperatures, repelling fish and interfering with normal migration and feeding patterns. The new limits dramatically reduce the amount of water the plant will be allowed to use.
  • Executive Director Curt Spalding testifies before the Joint Congressional Commission on Oceans, calling for a coordinated national habitat restoration effort. Read his testimony.
  • Working with 212 volunteers, including scuba divers, snorkelers, kayakers and eelgrass tiers, Save The Bay completes an extensive effort of transplanting over 21,000 eelgrass plants at three large-scale sites and four test sites in Narragansett Bay.
  • We break ground for our new Fields Point education center.


  • Save The Bay, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), and the City of East Providence launch a feasibility study to restore the Ten Mile River fish run. The goal of the restoration is to reestablish a self-sustaining run of American shad, alewives, and blue-back herring to the lower reaches of the river. The study explores fish ladders and alternative passage options at the three dams along the river.
  • Save The Bay christens its first educational vessel, the M/V Alletta Morris. The vessel is an integral part of our $6.5 million Explore The Bay Campaign to expand educational programs for school students and the general public. The Alletta Morris is a 45-foot aluminum power vessel designed to introduce children and families to Narragansett Bay.
  • Save The Bay transplants eelgrass to 20 sites around Narragansett Bay. The goal of the project is to determine the most appropriate sites for full-scale eelgrass restoration in the Bay. Save The Bay staff, volunteer scuba divers, and marine scientists from the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography and Environmental Data Center participate in the eelgrass transplant, and will monitor the sites through the fall of 2001. Transplant sites include Greenwich Bay, Bristol Harbor, West Passage, East Passage, and the Sakonnet River.


  • We issue the first State of The Bay 2000 report, rating the health of Narragansett Bay a 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Save The Bay conducts shoreline and on-the-water monitoring, coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and serves as a media liaison to respond to the Penn Maritime Oil Spill off Middletown in Narragansett Bay on July 5th. An estimated 9,700 gallons of #6 fuel oil was spilled into the Bay.
  • Save The Bay secures a federal program & funding for estuarine habitat restoration nationwide. On November 6, President Clinton signs the Estuaries & Clean Water Act, a bill first sponsored by the late Senator John H. Chafee in 1997. The new law creates an estuary restoration program and there will be up to $880 million in federal funds available over the next five years to restore one million acres of estuarine habitat and pay for clean water projects.
  • The Clean Water & Open Space bonds pass in Rhode Island. The 2 bond referenda will generate nearly $300 million of investments in clean water infrastructure and open space preservation.
  • Over 16,000 students, teachers and members of the public learn about and experience Narragansett Bay through our education programs. Over 54 percent of the students served were from Rhode Island’s core urban communities.
  • We open Save The Bay’s Narragansett BayStation, our satellite learning resource at the Seamen’s Church Institute in Newport.
  • Save The Bay conducts an emergency horseshoe crab count. Amid growing concerns about overfishing of horseshoe crabs and declining crab populations, Save The Bay volunteers took part in a statewide effort to count mating pairs of horseshoe crabs during the full moon tides of June and July. The results of this count provide critical information to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management which issued fishing restrictions based on the count which found unusually low numbers of crabs during their mating season.


  • Save The Bay joins Restore America's Estuaries in commending the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works for unanimously passing Senator John Chafee's Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act, S.1222, out of committee. This bill will help save jobs, protect recreation and vacation havens for 180 million Americans, restore some of our most productive and threatened commercial and sport fisheries, preserve many of the world's most abundant wildlife habitats, and most important, save our coastal heritage for our children.
  • In collaboration with area partners, Save The Bay offers to the general public: sailing classes, moonlight kayaking and snorkeling adventures near an eelgrass bed.
  • Save The Bay's Board of Directors and the Conservation Law Foundation's Rhode Island Advisory Board unanimously vote to oppose construction of a large load-center port at Quonset Point / Davisville, and convey their views in a letter hand-delivered to Governor Lincoln Almond. Save The Bay joins with numerous community groups to form Save Our State (S.O.S.), to oppose the load-center port vision and support responsible, sustainable development at Quonset Point.
  • Save The Bay Trustee Senator John Chafee, renown for his long career of public service and commitment to Narragansett Bay, announces he will not be seeking reelection to the United States Senate. Save The Bay greets this news with great sadness, but also with a deep sense of gratitude. Grow Smart Rhode Island completes focus group research and finds that Save The Bay is named when focus group participants are asked who could help change the way Rhode Island manages its growth.
  • Save The Bay coordinates volunteers to "scoop" approximately 1,000 river herring from the Gilbert Stuart Fishway on the Pettamaquamscutt River (Narrow River) to support herring restoration efforts at Echo lake in Barrington and Wesquage Pond in Narragansett.
  • Save The Bay partners with RIDEM-Fish and Wildlife and local fishermen to stock 300 herring into Wesquage Pond and 700 herring into Echo Lake as part of the Big Massachuck Creek Restoration Project at Rhode Island Country Club.
  • The board of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation votes to reject the proposed container port proposal for Quonset Point / Davisville.


  • The University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography joins Save The Bay to transplant and seed eelgrass. Divers transplant eelgrass collected from Charlestown’s Ninigret Pond and also scatter seeds throughout the site. Restoring eelgrass to the Bay has become one of Save The Bay’s top priorities ever since the habitat mapping of the Bay conducted with the Rhode Island DEM found that only about 90 acres of eelgrass remain in Narragansett Bay.
  • Save The Bay works with Rhode Island public school teachers to develop portable classroom programs that augment and expand the existing curriculum. For example, the Eelgrass Man Puppet Show uses puppets and leaning stations to emphasize the importance of habitats as homes for a variety of creatures.
  • In an effort to respond to the decline of eelgrass in Narragansett Bay, Save The Bay works with two local schools—William M. Davies Jr. Career & Technical School and Cranston High School West—to grow eelgrass in the classroom. The students plant eelgrass seeds and monitor the eelgrass growth. The eelgrass grown in the classrooms will be transplanted into the Bay as part of ongoing eelgrass restoration work.
  • Save The Bay publishes a special report, "Vital Signs: Our Bay in Crisis;" publishes an educational brochure; creates a radio advertisement campaign; and publishes the Coastal Habitat Management Handbook to educate the public about the crisis posed by the decline of Bay habitats like salt marshes, underwater eelgrass and fish runs.
  • Save The Bay, in partnership with the Conservation Law Foundation wins a public stakeholder process to develop an appropriately scaled development plan for Quonset Point. The stakeholder process asks tough questions and generates economic and environmental data and community input critical to understanding how to best develop a port at Quonset.
  • Save The Bay coordinates the efforts of fishermen, East Bay communities, and environmental groups to oppose the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to dump dredge spoils from the Providence River off Hog Island, a unique and valuable Bay habitat. Save The Bay is joined by Senator Chaffee, Congressman Kennedy, Governor Almond, and a range of state and federal agencies in making constructive recommendations to solve the state’s dredging needs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abandons the Hog Island site and efforts are underway to find a more acceptable location for the dredge spoils.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approves the state’s application for a "no discharge" designation for all Rhode Island waters. The new regulation goes into effect on August 10, making it illegal to dump sewage from boats into any state waters, including the Bay. Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to achieve this "no discharge" status.
  • In response to pressure from Save The Bay, the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management launch the beach hotline so people may call to learn which beaches are safe for swimming. Beach monitoring also improves—test results are now available within 24 hours.
  • Nearly 10,000 children and adults connect with Narragansett Bay through Save The Bay’s coastal studies program, oceanographic cruises, teacher workshops, BayCamp, in-school puppet shows, and harbor seal shows. Participants learn about the fragile complexity of Narragansett Bay’s web of life and the important role the Bay plays in all of our lives.
  • Over 115 volunteers help Save The Bay, the Barrington Land Conservation Trust, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service restore the Little Mussachuck Creek Salt Marsh in Barrington this year. Since the restoration, the marsh has become a haven for birds. Upwards of 40 snowy egrets and 60 black ducks have been spotted at a time there, and countless more shorebirds have been using the exposed flats as a feeding ground during their southern migration. The new creek system also has brought back fish into the upper reaches of the marsh.
  • We publish the Uncommon Guide to Common Life of Narragansett Bay.


  • Save The Bay elevates habitat restoration to a national priority. In September, after months of hard work with Save The Bay and the national group Restore America’s Estuaries, Save The Bay Trustee and United States Senator John Chafee introduced the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act. Save The Bay helps over 160 community members jump-start local restoration efforts. In January, we sponsor the first-ever habitat restoration conference to educate local residents how to restore the salt marshes, fish runs and eelgrass beds of Narragansett Bay
  • The Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, is the largest fossil fuel burning plant in New England and has a huge impact on the Bay. Since 1985 when Brayton Point increased its discharge of heated cooling water into Mount Hope Bay to an average of 1,400,000,000 gallons a day, the Department of Environmental Management has found an 87 percent decline in Mount Hope Bay fish populations. To reverse this devastating trend, Save The Bay advocates for a reduction in discharge levels and successfully forges an agreement on an interim permit for Brayton Point between government agencies and New England Power Company. The new permit requires the plant to reduce its discharge levels to pre-1985 levels, giving relief to struggling fish populations.
  • We offer our first seal cruises -- passengers board the historic Dutch vessel Brandaris out of Wickford Harbor to view these seasonal marine visitors.
  • In a move long advocated for by Save The Bay, the Department of Environmental Management establishes a "fishable, swimmable" goal for all of Narragansett Bay, including, for the first time, urban rivers. Although mandated by the federal Clean Water Act of 1972, Rhode Island had previously failed to establish this goal for the state. The new designation means we can begin to reclaim these previously ignored areas. As a first step toward achieving this goal, the Department of Environmental Management has added new sites to its fecal monitoring program based on Save The Bay’s Upper Bay Use Survey
  • Save The Bay starts training teachers. Teacher training workshops provide teachers interested in developing Bay-related lessons with a wealth of information about Narragansett Bay ecology and natural history. With Save the Bay’s advance training, teachers develop lessons for students before and after the field trip and get the most out of the Bay experience.
  • Taking advantage of the power of the Internet, Save The Bay launches its own Web site, www.savebay.org. While browsing the site, visitors can learn about relevant Bay legislation and policy issues, find out about our upcoming education programs, sign up to become a member, read the latest Save The Bay press releases and learn about volunteer opportunities.


  • Save The Bay launches the new Narragansett Baykeeper patrol vessel. The Baykeeper is a unique, highly fuel efficient, environmentally friendly power trimaran linking the latest marine technology with environmental protection activities.
  • Save The Bay is a first responder and lead contact during the 828,000-gallon North Cape oil spill. Save The Bay responds to 3,000 volunteer inquiries during the spill and successfully trained, organized, and mobilized 1,200 volunteers in the massive cleanup effort.
  • We participate in the Narragansett Bay Commission’s stakeholder workshops to analyze a $500 million public works project that would eliminate combined sewer overflows from spilling untreated sewage into Narragansett Bay when it rains. Save The Bay successfully lobbies to have more community and environmental representatives participate in the workshops and review process.
  • Working with the Rhode Island Department of Education, we help establish an estuarine curriculum to be integrated with statewide education initiatives.
  • Save The Bay launches BayCamp for students in grades 5 through 12. The collaborative week-long day camp gives students hands-on experience with Narragansett Bay along the shore and aboard Project Oceanology’s 70’ research vessel, Enviro-Lab III.
  • Save The Bay develops the Narragansett Bay Method, a procedure to enable community groups and volunteers to evaluate salt marshes and determine restoration potential. We train volunteers in salt marsh evaluation and create the Narragansett Bay Habitat Restoration Plan. The plan outlines goals for salt marshes, eelgrass beds, and historic fish runs to be met by the year 2010.
  • Working with the Rhode Island Department of Education, Save The Bay helps establish an estuarine curriculum to be integrated with statewide education initiatives.


  • Save The Bay partners with seven regional non-profit organizations to form Restore America’s Estuaries, an unprecedented collaboration to increase public understanding of the plight of the nation’s marine estuaries and to develop conservation plans to restore critical estuarine habitats.
  • We launch our Explore The Bay Canoe Program, which includes on-site study of area shorelines and salt marshes.
  • Save The Bay coordinates cleanups along the Woonasquatucket and Providence River's helping to remove tons of litter and debris.
  • Collaborating with the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography and RI SeaGrant, we monitor and transplant eelgrass, a primary food source for hundreds of Bay creatures.
  • Fall River, Massachusetts, celebrates the passage of a $115 million bond referendum to fund the city’s Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Project after five years of hard work with Save The Bay.


  • Responding to the closing of Greenwich Bay to shellfishing since December 1992, Save The Bay, the City of Warwick, the Narragansett Bay Project, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management coordinate efforts to address pollution in Greenwich Bay.
  • To help alert the public to the problems posed by sludge incineration, Save The Bay publishes "Burning Questions – The Future of Sludge Management in Rhode Island." The special report examines the environmental and public health issues related to sludge incineration.
  • Save The Bay organizes a coalition of 25 Narragansett Bay Watershed environmental organizations and other groups to support and strengthen existing wetlands regulations and oppose attempts to weaken wetlands laws.
  • Save The Bay is presented the Model Volunteer Program Award, by Volunteers in Action for the 5th year in a row. Our volunteer corps increases to over 1,800 people.
  • Working in partnership with area businesses, we offer Narragansett BayWork, a pilot program designed to bring Bay awareness and appreciation into the workplace.
  • Joining the City of Warwick, the Narragansett Bay Project and the Department of Environmental Management, Save The Bay helps win a $13 million Greenwich Bay bond to address pollution in Greenwich Bay.


  • Save The Bay and Northbridge, Massachusetts, collaborate on a national model project to stop toxic pollution at the source. Save The Bay’s unique "Toxic Diet" strategy focuses on comprehensive source reduction as an alternative to traditional, expensive, end-of-pipe pollution treatment.
  • Save The Bay founds its BayWatcher program. The program organizes, supports and trains volunteer citizens to become environmental stewards by collecting vital water quality data, observing wildlife populations, and documenting coastal features, land uses, and potential pollution problems.
  • Save The Bay’s experiential education program, Explore The Bay, expands to include shoreline and classroom Bay education programs. The new programs examine the Bay ecosystems and the effects of human activity on Bay health.
  • Our environmental conference, "Taking It Back: A Practical Guide To Reclaiming Your Rights, Your Environment, and Your Community," addresses the connection between Bay protection, social justice, and urban redevelopment.


  • As a result of Save The Bay’s 1988 lawsuit with Friends of the Sakonnet and the Rhode Island Attorney General, a new wastewater treatment facility is constructed for Sherwood Park, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
  • Save The Bay launches the "Fishable, Swimmable" campaign to demand state governments set goals to take action to make all Narragansett Bay waters and watershed rivers safe for swimming and fishing.
  • Our Explore The Bay program expands to include shoreline study and classroom presentations. We also branch out into Massachusetts, taking Fall River students out onto Mount Hope Bay.
  • We launch a public education campaign and testify in support of a plan to build a $115 million Combined Sewer Overflow project in Fall River, Massachusetts, designed to stop the billion gallon annual flow of raw sewage into Mount Hope Bay.
  • Save The Bay launches the Baykeeper program, becoming the 8th in the nation. Built around a specially equipped boat and crew, the Baykeeper is Save The Bay’s Bay Response program, which enhances our defense of Narragansett Bay.


  • As a result of a suit brought by Save The Bay against the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and the Blackstone Valley District Commission sewage treatment facility, the state issues a permit limiting the Commission’s pollution discharge.
  • As part of a continuing effort to improve environmental governance in Rhode Island, we commit to work for political ethics reform and becomes a founding member of RIght Now.
  • As a result of the "Promise For The Pawtuxet" campaign, Save The Bay is instrumental in securing $13 million in federal funds to clean up polluted stormwater runoff into the Pawtuxet and other urban rivers.
  • For our work in bringing ecology into the classroom, Save The Bay is designated as part of the international Network for Environmental Education.


  • Responding to overdue pollution regulation permits, Save The Bay sues the RI Department of Environmental Management and the Blackstone Valley District Commission (BVDC) to update the Commission’s permits for stricter pollution limits. We help win passage of a $35 million Bay bond referendum to fund BVDC and other sewage treatment facility upgrades to meet new pollution limits.
  • Save The Bay runs its first Family Cruises, giving parents the unique shipboard experience kids have been enjoying through the Explore The Bay program.
  • We offer a winter workshop series for teachers, entitled "Bringing Narragansett Bay Into Your Classroom."
  • Focusing attention on urban rivers, specifically the Pawtuxet River and its contribution of over 1,300 tons of pollutants annually to Narragansett Bay, Save The Bay launches the campaign, "Promise For The Pawtuxet." This educational campaign includes a special report pinpointing pollution sources while outlining necessary cleanup steps for the Pawtuxet River, the second largest source of fresh water to Narragansett Bay.
  • As a continuing effort in Save The Bay’s Massachusetts Project, Save The Bay launches the "Bring Back the Blackstone" campaign. The campaign includes a special report that addresses the Blackstone River as a major source of heavy metal pollution to Narragansett Bay and recommends necessary actions by Massachusetts and Rhode Island governments to restore and protect the river.
  • We launch a Storm Drain Marking Program in which children paint street drains with the message, "Don’t Dump, Drains to Bay," to teach people in watershed communities the direct link between their street and the Bay.
  • Save The Bay is invited to join the National Growth Management Leadership Project which advocates strategies for minimal environmental impact from land development throughout the United States.


  • Save The Bay launches, "Hope For Mount Hope Bay." The campaign includes a special report that identifies specific cleanup steps for both RI and MA in order to reopen Mount Hope Bay for shellfishing and other uses.
  • Education director Sandra Ryack-Bell and Explore The Bay receive awards from the National Wildlife Federation and the EPA for their efforts in creating environmental stewards by introducing children to Bay life firsthand.
  • Responding to a 420,000 gallon oil spill caused by the grounding of the World Prodigy on Brenton Reef at the entrance to Narragansett Bay, Save The Bay mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to aid in a massive cleanup. For its role in mitigating this disaster, Save The Bay is named the 76th of a "Thousand Points of Light" by the President of the United States.
  • In its third season, Explore The Bay expands to a six-week, fee-based program and partners with URI, taking kids out on the University's research vessel,Lauri Lee.


  • Save The Bay fights for the preservation of the path at Black Point in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Because we built public attention and pressure, the entire Black Point property was acquired by the State of Rhode Island for preservation from development.
  • Save The Bay’s volunteer program increases to 700 volunteers, interns, and BayBackers.
  • Save The Bay helps to develop a new oceanography unit (and accompanying manual) to be incorporated into the Providence Schools' 5th grade curriculum.The Oceans: Narragansett Bay introduces students to the physiology of the Bay as well as its plant and animal life and concerns about its health and future.
  • Save The Bay, Friends of the Sakonnet, and the Rhode Island Attorney General file suit to stop the discharge of untreated sewage into the Sakonnet River from Sherwood Park Development in Portsmouth, RI.
  • We initiate a campaign to end Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) pollution in Narragansett Bay. The campaign includes publication of the special report, "A Raw Deal: Combined Sewer Overflow Pollution in Rhode Island," detailing the effects of CSOs on Narragansett Bay.
  • As part of the new long-range plan, Save The Bay moves beyond Rhode Island’s borders to address Massachusetts-based pollution with the Massachusetts Project. The project, led by Ira Magaziner and staffed by a team of volunteer scientists and professionals, researches pollution problems in the Blackstone River region and the Mount Hope Bay, Taunton River, and Fall River region.
  • Save The Bay offers the Teacher Resource Library -- shelves of Bay reference material available for loan to Rhode Island teachers.


  • Save The Bay supports a $65 million Open Space bond referendum designed to finance the preservation of Rhode Island’s vanishing open spaces. The referendum passes overwhelmingly.
  • Save The Bay launches Explore The Bay, a shipboard Bay education program for kids. The pilot program takes place (at no cost to nearly 1,000 students from participating Rhode Island schools) aboard Enviro-Lab, the 50-foot research vessel of Project Oceanology, a marine education center based in Groton, Connecticut. The purpose of Explore The Bay is to foster an appreciation of Narragansett Bay as children and teachers haul plankton nets, test water quality and study creatures up close.
  • We organize and host a landmark national conference, "Saving Our Bays, Sounds, and the Great Lakes: An Activist Agenda." The conference is sponsored by the U.S. EPA and includes an 83-page special report. For the first time in history, leaders of environmental groups representing more than 8 million people are brought together to examine water pollution problems and promote solutions.
  • Save The Bay creates the "BayBacker" program. A network of volunteer activists, BayBackers provide grassroots support for Save The Bay’s legislative initiatives and Bay protection campaigns by writing and phoning government officials and testifying at public hearings.


  • Save The Bay helps win passage of a $4 million bond issue to pay for improvements to the Newport Sewage Treatment Plant.
  • With the battle cry, "Reduce, Re-use, Recycle," Save The Bay pushes the Rhode Island General Assembly to pass the first mandatory curbside recycling bill in the nation.
  • We produce the special report, "Down the Drain: Toxic Pollution and the Status of Pretreatment in Rhode Island," calling public attention to the need for industrial pretreatment and pollution prevention at Narragansett Bay watershed sewage plants.
  • Save The Bay holds its first in a series of seven Land Use Conferences to teach people in communities how to prevent Bay pollution through sound land use planning.


  • Save The Bay formalizes its volunteer program with the addition of the first volunteer coordinator to the staff.


  • Save The Bay campaigns to reduce pollution from waste discharged directly into the Pawtuxet River by Ciba-Geigy. Ciba-Geigy agrees to send their waste to the Cranston sewage treatment facility and to help rebuild the facility to handle the addition of Ciba-Geigy’s waste.


  • Save The Bay produces the first annual audit of Narragansett Bay watershed sewage treatment plants. The audit, entitled "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly," measures compliance with state discharge permits. As a result, we build public and political pressure and many plants begin to correct their problems. Water quality in the Upper Bay and Providence, Seekonk, and Pawtucket Rivers improves. This report is an effective tool for raising public awareness and encouraging high performance from individual plants.
  • Save The Bay initiates the Aquidneck Island Pollution Prevention Project to identify pollution problems associated with land use and development practices. Field studies reveal a host of water pollution problems resulting from rapid and unplanned development. Staff size increases from six to ten, and a team of four is stationed on Aquidneck Island.


  • Save The Bay successfully campaigns for an $87 million Bay bond to fund the upgrade and repair of Providence’s treatment facility. As a direct result, thousands of acres of shellfish beds are reopened in the next few years.


  • Save The Bay focuses effort on water pollution problems that literally make the Upper Bay an open sewer. The first target is the Providence sewage treatment facility which was rated New England’s second worst pollution problem by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for dumping millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Bay each year.


  • Save The Bay asks people to swim from Jamestown to Newport to support the organization and to call for greater efforts to improve water quality in the Bay. Some 100 people take part. The Save The Bay Swim is born.


  • With funding from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, Save The Bay sponsors an investigation of Rhode Island's energy alternatives. We publish "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Energy" a booklet providing citizens with information on the project.


  • Save The Bay successfully campaigns to defeat placement of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant on Prudence Island, RI.


  • Save The Bay opposes construction of a proposed nuclear facility at Rome Point in North Kingstown, RI.
  • We advocate for and participate in the formation of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).


  • Save The Bay is incorporated in October. Operating out of a small office in East Greenwich, RI, Save The Bay’s first Executive Director, John Scanlon, and two part-time staff focus on the proposed development of energy facilities along Narragansett Bay.