Stratford, Connecticut — — “We’re going to have to find a way to control it,” says David Hines, director of the Stratfords ecologic center.
The strata-covered cliffs and wetlands along the Connecticut coast are home to a variety of wildlife species, including mussels and crabs.
But Hines and his colleagues are working to figure out what happens to the invasive species when the shoreline is destroyed.
The Strats ecologic park in Stratfield, Connecticut, sits on a small peninsula that straddles Connecticut and New Jersey.
The land was once used as a farming site.
When the water level in the surrounding marsh dropped, the land was converted to farmland.
But in the 1970s, the Strats realized they were being overgrazed by a species of grasses, and decided to turn the land into an ecotourism park.
The site is filled with trails and waterfalls, and the area is open to all kinds of wildlife, from blue whales to sharks.
“It’s kind of a magical place,” says Hines.
“You can’t miss it.”
Hines says he was inspired to create the Strathmore Ecotourist Trail by watching his son’s family use it.
“I was like, this is so cool!”
He is currently working to turn a portion of the trail into a natural habitat for birds, and has received funding from the National Wildlife Foundation to help fund his efforts.
“There are more species in Strathmont than in the rest of New York state,” he says.
Hines hopes the trail will attract more tourists and help to protect the natural habitat.
“The beach is beautiful,” he said.
“But it’s not a beach anymore.”
In Strathmount, a group of about 30 people, including tourists, have set up a tent on a hilltop.
The group includes two women who are trying to help restore the beach to its former glory, and another woman who was there as a child.
“They’re the people that have been there for 30 years,” says Maria Castellanos.
“So I think they’re very much in the minority.”
Maria Castelanos has lived in Straths area for almost 30 years.
She and her husband moved there in 1983, and have lived in the area for 30 more.
She says the area has been under a lot of pressure to change and grow over the years.
“We’ve had a lot [of tourists], but there are a lot more people coming here now, and that’s a good thing,” she said.
Castelanes daughter, who was born in Strats area, is one of the people trying to keep the tide of visitors at bay.
Maria Castelloas daughter, Maria Castilloas, is helping to restore the area’s native wildlife and habitats to restore native vegetation and water.
“What they’ve been doing is trying to restore habitat and that has been a big part of our conservation work, and it’s the reason we’re still here,” she says.
Maria says that as soon as she started volunteering for Strathmores ecotours project, she began to notice an increase in tourists.
“A lot of people come here for the beach, but they’re not necessarily looking to visit the wildlife or nature or go to the beach,” she added.
“People are just coming to enjoy the scenery and be with their families.”
Maria says she’s excited about the prospect of people visiting StrathMills, as well as the nearby Strathfords, for the weekend.
“If you go down to the shore, the shore is beautiful and it just happens to be the place where they’re staying,” she told ABC News.
“Now, you’ve got these beautiful places to enjoy for the first time.”
Maria and her partner are hoping to open the Straths ecotourian trails in a few years, and will bring back the native species.
“This is an incredible place to be,” she continued.
“Our community is so vibrant and diverse.
It’s just amazing.
We’re so lucky to have the Strati people.”
ABC News’ Mark Molnar contributed to this report.