How We Work

How We Work

Save The Bay®-Narragansett Bay is a member-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and improving Narragansett Bay and all the waters that flow into it. The Narragansett Bay watershed offers 400 miles of coastline and stretches 1,705 square miles inland, covering most of Rhode Island and much of Massachusetts. Its 3,500 miles of streams and rivers carry water into the Bay from over one hundred towns and cities with 1.95 million people. Our vision, since 1970, is a fully swimmable, fishable, healthy Narragansett Bay, accessible to all.

Photo of Sail In 1980s
Save The Bay mobilized a “Sail-In” in the 1980s to advocate for improvements to wastewater treatment facilities.

Advocacy & Public Policy

Since our founding in 1970, Save The Bay has become known for our fierce advocacy. We champion the right of all people to enjoy Narragansett Bay with peace of mind and stand against coastal activities, actions and developments that diminish public access to the Bay.

As a science-driven organization, we prize objectivity with a clear-eye view of the regional environmental landscape and laser focus on Narragansett Bay and its watershed. We pursue laws and policies that safeguard Narragansett Bay and we fight legislation that threatens its well-being. We are active in the state houses of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in the halls of Congress, and in municipalities and communities throughout the watershed. We monitor the actions of government agencies charged with protecting the environment and hold them accountable. We analyze the potential impacts of a wide range of policies and proposals, from wetlands protection to pollution from cesspools and wastewater treatment plants to watershed forest protection to major development projects in high-risk coastal areas.

Our Narragansett Baykeeper, South Coastkeeper, and Narragansett Bay Riverkeeper are our primary eyes and ears on the water, partnering with watershed communities and environmental agencies to identify and respond to environmental threats. Save The Bay is affiliated with the Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of specialists worldwide with a passion for defending the environment and a devotion to working in their communities.

Habitat Restoration & Adaptation

Students help with salt marsh restoration
Students help with salt marsh restoration projects.

Protecting and improving Narragansett Bay means protecting and preserving all parts of the Narragansett Bay ecosystem—from coastal salt marshes, beaches and dunes, to upland forests, rivers and streams, to urban ponds and waterways, to aquatic habitats such as eelgrass, mud flats and shellfish beds. All of these critical areas provide important habitats, protect drinking water, and act as natural filters and nurseries for the Bay. The health of all of these habitats is important to all of us who live and rely on healthy and clean waters in Narragansett Bay. Mobilizing community partners, Save The Bay engages in the hands-on work necessary to restore, rebuild or strengthen these habitats against changing climate conditions and human impacts.

Across the watershed, we reopen streams and rivers migratory fish habitat through dam removal and fish ladder projects. We rebuild and replant dunes important to erosion controls and encourage smart development that protects the public’s right to access the shoreline. We work with towns and cities on projects to reduce polluted runoff from roadways and other hard surfaces, protecting our waters from nutrients, bacteria and other pollutants. As sea level rise accelerates, we are strongly focused on strategies and techniques to help salt marshes adapt and migrate inland, preserving their many benefits to clean water, flood prevention and marine life.

Save The Bay coordinates Rhode Island’s participation in the International Coastal Cleanup each fall, and our March-November beach cleanup program engages more than 4,000 volunteers in the removal of litter and marine trash from Narragansett Bay’s beautiful beaches and shorelines every year.

Save The Bay provides marine science and environmental education programs to 15,000 K-12 students every year.

Education & Community Outreach

The ongoing success of our efforts to protect and improve Narragansett depends on the next generations of Bay stewards who will carry our work forward, understanding the threats that Narragansett Bay faces, the value of the Bay to our lifestyles and livelihoods, and their own role in protecting it. Connecting students and communities to Narragansett Bay has been a cornerstone of our efforts since the 1980s.

Every year, some 15,000 students from public and private schools, kindergarten through college, participate in our high-quality, hands-on marine science and environmental education programs. These “living classrooms,” which are aligned to state and national science standards, take place across the watershed—on the water, on our education vessels, in the field in many of the Bay’s various coastal and inland aquatic habitats, in our Bay Center classrooms and Exploration Center and Aquarium, and in the students’ own classrooms at school.

More than 24,000 community members connect with Narragansett Bay through our interactive Exploration Center and Aquarium, summer Baycamps, winter seal tours, and lighthouse tours.



Community Support & Engagement

Photo of Beach cleanup Volunteers
More than 4,000 volunteers help Save The Bay do our work every year.

At the heart of all we do is the support of the thousands of members, donors, volunteers and advocates who share in our efforts in a variety of ways. More than 4,000 volunteers and interns every year help us: in the office, in the field, on our beaches, on the water, and in so many other ways. Citizen scientist volunteers help us document water pollution conditions around the Bay, record high tide and storm surge events, monitor and count seals, and clean up trash from our beaches. Community members have mobilized with us in rallies and protests, petitions, in support of environmental bond referenda and other advocacy efforts.

The majority of our funding comes from our thousands of members, individual/foundation giving, and grants, while special events, such as our Swim, Taste of the Bay and Artists for the Bay Show & Sale, also help generate critical funding for our work. More than 24,000 community members each year support our work by visiting our Exploration Center and Aquarium, attending summer Baycamps, and joining us for boat-based Nature Cruises and Seal Watch Tours and Lighthouse Tours.

Our power to effect positive change for Narragansett Bay and all who enjoy it lies in the strength of our membership and the volunteers and community members who support us in so many ways.

Impact Stats


K-12 students

received marine science education programs last year


salt marsh grasses

were planted by Save The Bay staff and volunteers last year


water quality samples

were taken in the Pawcatuck River and Little Narragansett Bay


pounds of trash

were removed from the R.I. shoreline last year


Save The Bay’s three Waterkeepers engage in the collection and interpretation of data to inform the public and affect policy; urge our public officials to make protection of our most valuable resource a top priority, and hold them accountable for actions that affect Bay quality. As members of the Waterkeeper Alliance, which has more than 300 programs worldwide, Save The Bay’s Waterkeepers are part of a network of specialists with a passion for defending the environment and a devotion to working in their communities.


Mike Jarbeau

As Save The Bay’s “eyes and ears” on Narragansett Bay, the Baykeeper identifies and responds to environmental threats by keeping in close contact with members of the Bay community and with environmental agencies. Save The Bay created the Baykeeper program in 1993 to strengthen our direct action, legal and regulatory watchdogging and pollution response capacity.
See pollution, or another issue, in the Bay? Report it to the Baykeeper:




David Prescott

Our South County Coastkeeper works in the community—both on and off the water—to protect, restore, and promote stewardship of the unique and magnificent waterways of Little Narragansett Bay, the Pawcatuck River, and the South Coast. The Coastkeeper program was launched in 2007 from Save The Bay’s South Coast Center in Westerly, R.I., creating a Save The Bay presence in Southern Rhode Island.
See pollution, or another issue, along the coast? Report it to the Coastkeeper:



Kate McPherson

Our Riverkeeper works to protect, restore, and promote stewardship of the vast network of remarkable rivers within the Narragansett Bay watershed, 60% of which is in Massachusetts. The Riverkeeper program was developed in 2016 to monitor Narragansett Bay’s tributary watershed, including the Blackstone, Ten Mile, Runnins, Palmer, Kickemuit, Cole, Lee and Taunton Rivers.
See pollution, or another issue, in our region’s rivers? Report it to the Riverkeeper: