Virginia Dautreuil, 35, started training Wednesday morning for her new role as superintendent of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. A Connecticut native, Ms. Dautreuil is the third person and first woman to hold the post.
The state conservation and recreation department is accepting applications for a superintendent following the sudden death of John J. Varkonda in late December. Mr. Varkonda was 55 and had been steward of the state forest for 26 years.
The state's fire control plans for the 5,200-acre Manuel F.
Corellus State Forest have come under attack by the scientific community
and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a
watchdog organization. The advocacy group threatens possible legal
action to block state forest teams from clearing hundreds of acres of
woodland along strategic fire lines.
Work began on the fire breaks in the Manuel F. Corellus State Forest
this week, with the blessing of the state attorney general but over the
protests of a watchdog group which promises to seek a court injunction
An evolving plan to manage and restore the Manuel F. Correllus State
Forest is set for its first public airing tomorrow, when state
environmental officials will come to the Vineyard to discuss efforts to
alleviate fire danger in the forest and to undertake the largest
ecological restoration project in the history of New England.
A Cape Cod man was accidentally shot in the neck on the first day of shotgun deer season on Monday in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. Dr. Joseph Asiaf, 73, of Centerville, caught a single piece of buckshot in the neck; police believe he was shot by a member of his own hunting party.
His injuries are not life-threatening.
Although the Massachusetts state police continue to investigate, the incident is being called a hunting accident and no criminal charges are expected.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will hold a public meeting on Saturday, Sept. 18, in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest to discuss ways to reduce wildfire risks and other public safety hazards while also restoring plantings of native trees.
The work scheduled to begin this fall is part of a three-year, 237-acre “emergency ecological restoration project” at the forest. The project involves removing the large number of red pines that have died there recently and creating new stands of native pitch pine and scrub oak.
The red pine plantations of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest have been described as recently as 1998 by this paper as a “pine cathedral,” with evenly spaced rows of the northern evergreen towering above a forest floor nearly barren except for a carpet of needles. Now that cathedral has been all but sacked by fungal barbarians known as diplodia pinea which infect the trees from the shoots and rot them to the core.
On Monday crews from R.J. Cobb Land Clearing moved into the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest to begin clearing some 90 acres of dead red pine trees that have been blighted in recent decades by the fungus diplodia pinea. The work is part of a larger three-year effort to remove 237 acres of timber that was originally planted as early as 1925 in the forest.