Dick & Alan Emmet: Husband & Wife Making a Difference in Westford

Dick and Alan Emmet

In 1951, Dick Emmet and his wife, Alan, moved from Cambridge to their new home on 15 wooded acres in Westford, drawn by the opportunity to enjoy peaceful nature walks right from their doorstep. Near their home and throughout Massachusetts, they saw that wildland was disappearing at an alarming rate and believed that it was imperative to do everything possible to conserve it. With a true conservation ethic, Dick and Alan purchased many small pieces of land near their Westford home. "We never intended to build ourselves an empire," says Alan, "we just wanted to conserve the land."

Dick and Alan became members of Mass Audubon in 1966, and their loyalty and generosity have been beyond compare. Dick was a member of Mass Audubon's Board of Directors for three terms, and his understanding of the ever-increasing challenges confronting the environment was pivotal to our progress.

As a trained attorney who went back to law after more than a quarter-century teaching high school, Dick played a critical role as a staff lawyer at the Conservation Law Foundation in shaping how public trust law can help protect New England's natural resources. He also unselfishly shared his expertise to assist a number of other conservation organizations in fulfilling their missions. We couldn't have asked for anyone more able to provide such thoughtful insight.

Dick passed away in 2007, leaving a legacy of commitment, vision, and hard work that helped shape conservation throughout Massachusetts. Part of that legacy: Mass Audubon's Nashoba Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Westford, several hundred acres of woodland, fields and wetlands — most of which Dick helped to protect over the years. His last gift enlarged the sanctuary still further, adding 62 acres by bequest.

Then, last December, Alan generously donated an additional 47 acres in Westford. "Mass Audubon was the obvious choice," says Alan. She and her husband knew that the land would be permanently protected. Not only would this be a resource for the people of Westford, but also a place for all people to discover and enjoy the beautiful woods and rolling fields of northeastern Massachusetts. "We didn't want it to be just for us," she says.

Further demonstrating their conviction, the couple donated and provided for the long-term stewardship of their tremendous gifts. Thanks to the conservation ethic, foresight, and generosity of Dick and Alan Emmet, the nature of Massachusetts is now better protected.