- Department of Conservation & Recreation
Media Contact for DCR Announces a Plan for Southern Pine Beetle Suppression in Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
Ilyse Wolberg, DCR Press Secretary
Boston — The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) today announced a response plan for the suppression of an outbreak of the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis; SPB) at Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury, MA.
DCR foresters first identified an active infestation of SPB during the forest health annual aerial survey in July 2023. DCR foresters observed a pocket of declining and dying pitch pine trees in the northwestern section of the state forest, and after further investigation, confirmed the cause to be SPB. DCR’s Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry and DCR Park Operations worked together to develop a response plan. As Manuel F. Correllus State Forest is designated as a Reserve, an area where active forest management is not intended and nature is usually left to take its course, the suppression plan was approved by the Forest Reserve Science Advisory Committee, an entity specifically created to consider when such an exception is warranted.
As part of the suppression plan, DCR will cut infested trees, which will decrease the beetle population and disrupt the chemicals that cause the beetles to aggregate and attack trees. Acting quickly will limit the spread of SPB and minimize tree mortality. If left unchecked the outbreak will expand, and the beetles could spread to other pitch pine stands in the state forest or adjacent private lands. Additionally, the mitigation actions will increase park safety and reduce wildfire risk.
SPB is native to the southern U.S. but has been expanding its range northward due to warming conditions driven by climate change. This northward spread has put pitch pine trees at risk. DCR has been monitoring for SPB since 2015. While low numbers have been trapped during survey operations, this is the first year DCR has observed significant infestations and tree mortality caused by SPB.
Currently, SPB outbreaks have been identified at one site on Nantucket Island and three locations on Martha’s Vineyard. DCR has been providing guidance and technical support to the private landowners dealing with this pest.
The DCR Forest Health Program will continue to monitor SPB populations trends and infestation risk through insect traps and ground and aerial surveys. Reports of possible SPB activity or suspicious pitch pine mortality should be directed to the DCR Forest Health Program.