Fairhaven’s Douglass Christmas Tree Farm Protected

In December, the Buzzards Bay Coalition purchased 26 acres of land on Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven that will safeguard water quality and coastal habitats in the face of sea level rise, preserve the scenic beauty of “The Neck,” and preserve farmland.

The waterfront property has been with the Douglass family for decades, and Richard and Vivian Douglass began conserving part of the land by recording a conservation restriction with BBC nearly 20 years ago. “Years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas chose conservation for much of their land,” said Brendan Annett, Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Vice President of Watershed Protection. “Now the Douglass family has gone a step further to complete the puzzle of conservation lands that make Nasketucket Bay and Sconticut Neck such a uniquely wonderful part of our coast.”

Though the land is filled with vital salt marshes and wildlife habitat, it is most widely known to the Buzzards Bay community as a Christmas tree farm.

Starting in 2001, and operating for one weekend per year, the annual tree sale was beloved by the Buzzards Bay community and beyond. All proceeds were donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute, a research organization, and Compassionate Care ALS, which provides equipment and other support to patients and their families, in honor and memory of their son Kenneth. By their final season in 2017, the Douglass family had donated over $250,000 to ALS research.

From left to right: Stephen Douglass, his wife Pamela Douglass, and sister Elizabeth Douglass

“It was a real community effort,” Steve Douglass remembered. “School principals, teachers, family friends, even the ORR boy’s hockey team and basketball team would volunteer. It became a local tradition.”

The Coalition’s own Allen Decker, Director of Land Protection, enjoyed bringing his own family to purchase their tree at Douglass Tree Farm. “It was always fun to see Vivian and Dick and catch up a bit, and we always managed to locate the perfect tree.  In addition to knowing that the family supported land conservation, it was always impressive to me that the proceeds from the tree sales supported ALS research.  It felt like a win-win, and we have fond memories of getting our tree ‘down the Neck.’”

The protection of this beloved property from future development will provide a multitude of benefits for Buzzards Bay. The surrounding salt marsh and coastal habitat will now have the space they need to migrate and adapt as sea levels continue to rise, preserving water quality, wildlife habitat and open space.  This land is also integral in completing the large mosaic of conservation land on Nasketucket Bay and Sconticut Neck. Public access trails can now be linked with other nearby areas, including Buzzards Bay Coalition’s Salt Winds Reserve,  Shipyard Farm and Winsegannsett Marshes.

The Douglass family is a cherished part of the Fairhaven community, and the Coalition is looking forward to preserving their legacy by protecting this precious land. “Our parents wanted somebody that was going to take care of it,” remarked Elizabeth Douglass. “If it wasn’t going to be family, it had to be the Buzzards Bay Coalition.”



Categories: On the Bay, On the Land

Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: