Manuel F. Correllus
508 693 2540
Correllus State Forest occupies over 5,343 acres
in the center of Martha's Vineyard. It was created in 1908 as the
"Heath Hen Reserve," in an attempt to prevent the bird's
extinction. Sadly, the last heath hen was seen in 1932. Today it is managed for passive
recreation, mostly hiking and cycling on its 14 miles of bike paths.
It is also the focus of one of the largest environmental restoration
projects in the country. As part of a cooperative effort, the State
Forest is now working to bring back the site's native ecosystem.
The Great Plain that forms much of Martha's Vineyard
supports an unusual concentration of rare species and extensive
examples of several uncommon sand-plain communities, including grasslands,
heathlands, barrens, and woodlands, dominated by mixed oak-pine.
It was the abundance of woodlands and shrublands that enabled the
heath hen to persist here long after they had died out elsewhere
in the northeast. Although widespread land clearing began on Martha's
Vineyard soon after European settlement in the 17th century, settlement
and agriculture were focussed around the perimeter of the island,
and the area that is now the state forest remained wooded with forest
and scrublands for centuries.
Click here to view trail
The Heath Hen Sculpture at Manuel Correllus State Forest
The Heath Hen was once plentiful along the eastern coast. By 1870, due to over-hunting and habitat loss, the last few hundred Heath Hens in the world were limited to Martha’s Vineyard. Although efforts to save the species were unsuccessful, they paved the way for modern-day conservation. Manuel F. Corellus State Forest is the lasting legacy of the once plentiful Heath Hen.
By 1908, only 70 Heath Hens remained. In an effort to protect the species, a Heath Hen Reserve, now Manuel F. Corellus State Forest, was established on Martha’s Vineyard. Initially it seemed the Reserve would be a success, as the Heath Hen population increased to about 2,000. However, the birds were met with several setbacks, including forest fire, severe winters, increased predation, and disease. By 1927, there were only twelve Heath Hens left in the world. In just one year, the last twelve Heath Hens became one - a sole male. Islanders named him ‘Booming Ben.’
Inspired for his “Lost Bird Project”, Todd McGrain chose the Heath Hen to be one of five extinct bird species to be sculpted. His breathless sculpture of the Heath Hen commemorates the last time the bird was seen.
On June 2, 2011, The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation dedicated the Heath Hen Sculpture at Manuel Correllus State Forest. The Heath Hen statue can be found by taking a five to ten-minute walk into the forest from Gate 18 or Gate 19 on the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road. Visitors will learn more about ‘Booming Ben’ and the important conservation message contained in the story of the Heath Hen.
Correllus State Forest is located on Martha's Vineyard in south-eastern
Vineyard Haven/Edgartown Rd., right on Barnes Rd., park on left.