The bit of woodlands at the end of Bonsilene and Wall streets, not far from the West Haven border, may not look like much from the outside, but step inside and there is a splendid view of a tidal salt marsh, teeming with small creatures and supporting a host of wildlife around it, like birds and deer.
Years ago trolley tracks ran through this stretch of land.
On Saturday, members of the Milford Land Conservation Trust converged on the 2.5-acre tract of woodlands to clean up the site, which the Hubbard family recently donated to the Land Trust.
The Hubbard family acquired the parcel in 1953. Before that it was a trolley right-of-way owned by the Winchester Avenue Railroad Company, the West Shore Railway Company, and then the Connecticut Company, according to the Land Trust website.
The old tracks are long gone, but on Saturday Land Trust members found old car tires, plastic bottles and other trash, which they pulled from the property and hauled away, making the area more attractive for the mourning doves, gray catbirds, and grackles that can be spotted there.
The Milford Land Conservation Trust, Inc., is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to own, preserve, and maintain land in its natural state throughout Milford for future generations.
The Trust owns 33 parcels, approximately 125 acres of land.
This latest piece is a treasure for several reasons, including its location. The Land Trust is hoping to eventually acquire the nearby tidal salt marsh, and that piece, combined with a strip of adjacent city owned property, will help create a nearly contiguous stretch of open space and connect the Oyster River corridor.
Tidal marshes are important for coastal resiliency, said Milford Open Space Manager Steve Johnson, and they are a vital part of the food chain.
Allan Wilcox, president of the Land Trust’s board of trustees, added, “Also, it’s a nice space that should be kept in its natural state.”
Nancy Iddings, a member of the city’s Tree Commission, joined in the cleanup Saturday. She appreciates open space for the part it plays in making a neighborhood a neighborhood.
“I think the value of open space is the aesthetic value of hanging onto woodlands and preventing the overdevelopment that could happen,” she said, adding that trees absorb sound and the woodlands provide a habitat for wildlife.
Joseph DeSisto, a Land Trust member, pointed to a bird perched atop a tree.
“That cardinal,” DeSisto said, “he depends on having space to live. People enjoy seeing wildlife in their yards, and that doesn’t happen unless we preserve space where they can live, breathe and grow.”
DeSisto was working with Alessandra Alling and others at the end of Bonsilene Street, mostly pulling out yard waste that had been dumped on the property — branches, twigs and grass clippings.
A wooded area might seem like a perfect place to dump this sort of material, but it’s not because rather than quickly decaying into the ground, it piles up, Alling pointed out.
The volunteers were also removing invasive plants, including multiflora rose and Japanese knotweed, which has been growing here among the native flora, including eastern cottonwood, black walnut and wild grape.