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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.
Correllus State Forest is located on Martha's Vineyard in south-eastern Massachusetts. Vineyard Haven/Edgartown Rd., right on Barnes Rd., park on left.
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. See More...