Marking a first in the long history of the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest on Martha’s Vineyard, a charitable friends group has recently formed to provide both financial support and stewardship for the 5,000-acre forest.

“We would like to create a closer tie between this major hub of state-owned conservation land and the community,” Robert Woodruff, an organizer and member of the group, told the Gazette this week.

The friends group is already able to accept tax-deductible donations, thanks to a fund that has been set up with the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard.

The group will also join others across the state that are part of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation friends network. Statewide, these friends groups share information and discuss common issues that affect forest and park lands.

Mr. Woodruff, a conservation ecologist who has had a 50-year association with the Correllus forest, said it is often the forgotten conservation property on the Island, despite its size and ecological importance. The forest has some 100 miles of trails and fire lanes and harbors more than 30 state-listed plants and insects. The forest protects the Island’s sole source aquifer and provides open space recreation for hunters, bikers, birders and nature enthusiasts. In spring it is a key habitat for migrating warblers.

State budget and staffing cuts have affected DCR properties throughout the commonwealth in recent years, including on the Vineyard, Mr. Woodruff said. As one example, he said forest superintendent Chris Bruno’s tractor recently broke down, but there are no immediately-available funds to pay for the repairs.

The Friends of the Correllus Forest will hold its first meeting in January, at a time and place to be announced. The group members currently include Mr. Woodruff, John Best, David Whitmon, Jake Gifford and Stephanie Dreyer. Mr. Bruno will serve in an ex officio capacity.

Donations to the Friends of the Correllus Forest can be sent to P.O. Box 243, West Tisbury, MA 02575. Checks should be made out to Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard — with Correllus (or MFC) State Forest Fund in the memo line.