MILFORD — For three hours on a recent morning, armed with clippers, pruners, spades, rakes, shovels, buckets, and a wheelbarrow, 15 members of the Milford Land Conservation Trust cleaned up one of its newest acquired properties — 76 Anchorage Drive, adjacent to Gulf Pond.

The volunteer team took down an above-ground pool and wooden decking and fencing, cut back vines, cleaned up broken glass and filled in holes.

“We had not only the homeowners actively involved in the project but we had a couple of the neighbors who joined us,” said Milford resident Bryan Anderson, who is a member of the land trust. “We returned the site to its natural state.”

The 1.12-acre site the land trust members were working on was donated to the Milford Land Conservation Trust by neighbor Jeanne Campagna, in memory of her late brother Joseph. The land is adjacent to Campagna’s home.

“Joseph Campagna was quite fond of playing along Gulf Pond, and many of the neighborhood children also played along the pond area,” Anderson said. “It was a popular spot.”

Anderson said the Campagna family and the neighbors wanted the property to be available for the public to enjoy. Donating the property to the land trust will ensure that the property remains in its restored, natural condition and will never be sold for development rights, according to Anderson.

The next step at the Anchorage Drive property is to plant native trees.

“The fall is the optimal time to plant trees because it allows the root system to take shape over the winter, and the roots to grow in the spring,” Anderson said. “So typically, if you want growing activity in the spring, the best time to plant is the fall. You’re putting in bulbs in October and November, so if there is a winter snow cover, that would feed the plant.”

“A good neighbor”

Anderson said the goal of the land trust, a nonprofit founded in 1971, “is to be a good neighbor first and foremost, to ensure that land is preserved in its natural state and to protect plants, birds, and wildlife.”

To date, the land trust has acquired 33 parcels, and more than 130 acres throughout Milford. All of its properties can be accessed for passive uses. The land trust doesn’t purchase property, it accepts donations.

When the land trust is contacted by residents in regard to a piece of land they would like to donate, members go out to the property and schedule either a walk-through or work party, according to Anderson.

“We really make it a point to reach out to the neighbors of our parcels so that there is regular communication,” he said. “We have people looking out for the interests of those parcels, and the trust in general.”

Anderson said whenever possible, the land trust tries to link properties together.

“There are presently parcels that are not a part of the land trust acres, but there might be a property that makes sense that would either link with an existing land trust property or really enhance one of our properties.” he said. “We would be interested in having that donation made.”

Previous properties the land trust has acquired include a former U.S. Dept. of Agriculture site off Carmen Road, and Nancy’s Meadow on First Avenue off Milford Point Road in Laurel Beach.

“Nancy’s Meadow was an engineered piece of land that was meant to be a meadow, and contains artifacts from the Native American tribes that had used the Housatonic River as their kitchen,” Anderson said.

Anderson said there are many very talented members in the group — which comes in handy.

“There are biologists and master gardeners who are very knowledgeable about native plants versus invasives, and people who are really handy with tools,” Anderson said. “There are also UConn graduates who have a background in environmental science and biology, and a birder who records bird information for DEEP regularly.”

sfox@milfordmirror.com