by Chad Kister
The comments were submitted to the Ohio Division of Mines and
Reclamation July 9, within the comment period for Permit D-360-7 that
threatens Dysart Woods. They state,
"The university objects to the application ... due to the adverse
effect that longwall mining in the southwest portion of the application
area may have on the Dysart Woods Laboratory ... The university has owned
Dysart Woods since 1966, acquiring them from the Nature Conservancy under
a commitment to preserve the woods in their natural state in perpetuity.
Dysart Woods are well known to your department, and much information
pertaining to that unique natural and environmental resource is available
to you from the Division of Forestry and Division of Natural Areas and
"The unique value of the woods caused the area to be declared
National Natural Landmark by the United States Department of Interior.
The woods are thus an irreplaceable and enormously valuable natural area,
and their loss would represent an environmental tragedy of great
"The old growth trees in Dysart Woods, because of their great
and age, require a stable and abundant supply of water. Coal mining, due
to its effect on the hydrologic balance of the area to be mined and nearby
lands, presents a very real threat to the well-being of the trees."
"The number seven permit encroaches on that area designated as
buffer zone and particularly the watershed area that could impact the
future of Dysart Woods. We are especially concerned with the southwest
corner of the petition that overlaps the buffer zone, the designated area
that people working with us have suggested needs to be protected from
mining in order to protect the water source that feeds these trees," North
said at the hearing.
We are greatly concerned about this continued encroachment.
Petition 6, now petition 7, possibly a petition 8 to come shortly
thereafter which would bring mining even closer and possibly under the
woods. As we have said on previous occasions, we believe some mutually
established and agreed to restriction or buffer zone is the most
appropriate way to protect the woods and the area around the woods.
It is important I believe, however, that the woods need to be
protected and that the best way to do that is to come up with some
commonly agreed and accepted boundaries around these woods which do assure
that activity that causes threat or pose danger to the woods will not be
taken. It is for that reason we are here to speak to you today. Mr.
David Northrop who is special council to Ohio University for Environmental
Concerns will speak specifically to our concerns of petition 7.
Attorney David Northrop said, "Dr. North has spoken eloquently
that we believe longwall mining in area 7 may harm Dysart Woods. Dysart
Woods lies less than a half mile to the South of permit #7 so it is very
close. This permit is coming perilously close to Dysart Woods. Dysart
Woods is in our view the crown jewel of Ohio's natural areas and
preserves. It should be preserved and protected at all costs."
Northrop noted that the more-than thousand page petition only
one page on Dysart Woods. That page, he continued, referred to a
coal-company financed study that said longwall mining had no affect on
surface water. The audience laughed boisterously. Numerous local farmers
had just testified to how their streams, springs and surface water dried
up because of longwall mining. Northrop noted that the very permit that
this statement was made in showed how longwall mining had drained a well
more than 745 feet from the actual mining.
Northrop said, "In our view this is a superficial analysis and
falls woefully short of the kind of information the division needs to
fully answer the impact the mine may have on Dysart Woods. The applicant
bears the burden. Not Ohio University. Not the Division of Mines and
Reclamation. It is Ohio Valley Coal who nears the burden as a matter of
law to demonstrate they are eligible for the permit. To do so they need
to show there is no impacts to the Dysart Woods. In our view this
application falls far short of meeting that burden. The burden I think
should be far greater given the unique nature of Dysart Woods."
Northrop asked for site-specific data from studies within the
watershed of Dysart Woods to show without a doubt that mining would not
affect the water table at the ancient forest. "These are old trees.
Trees do not grow hardier with age, they grow more fragile. They require
more water as they grow and are more susceptible to harm from loss of
"The Southwest portion of area #7 goes through and is located
the watershed in which Dysart Woods is located. Now we know, it is beyond
dispute that there will be an affect upon the water in the area directly
above the mine workings within the very watershed in which Dysart Woods
are located. There will be a loss of springs without a doubt. There will
be a lowering of the water table without a doubt.
Northrop continued, "We need site-specific information to
demonstrate without a doubt there will not be a lowering of the water
table at Dysart Woods. That information is not in the permit. To our
knowledge that information does not exist, the study has not been
performed. The division in our view does not act in accordance of law if
it issues this permit without first requesting that information be
gathered to be submitted to and be evaluated by all constituents. We
therefore ask that the permit in its present form not be issued."
The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, the Division of
Water, The Division of Wildlife, the Division of Soil and Water, The
Division of Forestry and the Media Division of the Ohio Department of
Natural Resources studyied the impacts that the proposed mine would have.
The study is broken down into two teams, a Forestry Team with Botanists
and Foresters, and a Geology Team with Soil scientists, Geologists and
ODMR spokesperson Kathy Rossman said she had never heard of the
Media Division, and assumed that to be the Director's office. The report
is scheduled to be completed September 10.
Citizens are urged to write, call and visit the ODNR Divisions
ask that they follow Ohio University Scientists and administration's
watershed buffer zone to protect Dysart Woods, the last significant stand
of unglaciated ancient forest left in Ohio. Dysart Woods is the only
place where citizens and scientists can study the forests that once
covered the Appalachian region of Ohio.
"The watershed buffer proposed by the OU administration and
faculty is the bare minimum to protect Dysart Woods. Citizens are urged
to contact the ODMR and demand that our government not compromise
whatsoever on the buffer zone," Kister said. "Dysart is the last
significant ancient forest left in Appalachian Ohio. We will not let it
be damaged by Ohio Valley Coal Company's selfish, polluting greed."
Glidden continues, "I have personally talked with Lisa Morris
she understands our great concern about Area #8. I will continue to
monitor that and I am hoping that ODNR will join us in engaging scientists
to study th matter as objectively as possible. In my opinion, out only
chance of winning is if ODNR is with us, and even then it may be very
Kister responded, "That scientist from Penn State, Parazek is
mentioned in Ohio Valley Coal Co,'s permit. Ohio University's own
scientist, Mary Stoertz, found that permit #7 would harm Dysart Woods.
Furthermore, Gary North testified strongly against permit #7 at the ODMR's
hearing August 4. And, you said at the Faculty Senate meeting that you
supported their resolution that called for banning mining from the
watershed of Dysart Woods. Permit 7 encroaches this watershed.
I am shocked by your sudden reversal of OU's position on this
pending threat to Dysart Woods."
Glidden responded the next morning, "I am NOT reversing position.
Our difference is in strategy. Again, I am not interested in making noise
just to make noise. The issue is to win where it counts, IF we can."
"More than 5,000 citizens have signed petitions and more than
thousand citizens have written letters to the ODMR opposing permits #6 and
#7," said Environmental Activist Chad Kister. "Nobody has written a
letter in favor of either permit, according to Bill Stirling of the ODMR.
It is time the citizens rise up and demand that democracy prevail."
Kister said further that the Ohio Division of Mines and
Reclamations acted recklessly and illegally in granting the #6 permit
before conducting a geological study to determine its impacts on Dysart
"The ODMR's rubber stamp of Ohio Valley Coal's permit six was
politically streamlined with thousands of dollars of campaign
contributions and personal private air service by Ohio Valley Coal Company
to Governor Voinovich," Environmental Activist Chad Kister said.
"More than 5,000 citizens have signed petitions and more than
thousand citizens have written letters to the ODMR opposing permits #6 and
#7. Nobody has written a letter in favor of either permit, according to
Bill Stirling of the ODMR. It is time the citizens rise up and demand
that democracy prevail."
Faculty Senate Chair Louis Wright introduced the motion on behalf
of the Executive Committee. "Ohio University owns Dysart Woods," Wright
said. "Unfortunately, in Ohio you may own the land but not the mineral
rights. And in this case the mineral rights are owned by a coal company.
Part of the land is virgin forest, that as far as we know has never been
logged. Faculty, students and scientists from all over use the
laboratory. Therefore we would like to resolve that Faculty Senate oppose
mining beneath the watershed or beneath the forest itself."
"We do intend to save Dysart Woods," said Ohio University
President Robert Glidden at the meeting. "I do support the motion." This
means that he opposes permit #7 because the motion calls for the
protection of the watershed buffer zone that permit #7 violates. However,
the President said, at some point we will have to decide how much we want
to save Dysart Woods. Some time in the future we may be coming to you for
money for litigation."
Whereas Dysart Woods is among the oldest forests left in Ohio
more than 400 years old
Whereas Ohio has lost more than 99.99 percent of its original
Whereas Ohio University owns the 455 acre Dysart Woods property
55 acres of virgin forest
Therefore, let it be resolved that Faculty Senate opposes any
proposal to mine beneath the watershed of Dysart Woods and that it most
vigorously opposes any future proposal to mine beneath the forest itself.
As a consequence of this resolution:
The Faculty Senate requests that the Ohio University Administration
oppose Ohio Valley Coal Company attempts to mine beneath the watershed, as
well as any future application to mine beneath Dysart Woods.
The Faculty Senate requests that Ohio University file a Land Unsuitable
for Mining Petition to protect Dysart Woods."
"They are encroaching the watershed already (with permit 7).
think this motion is timely," said Wright. "And I think it might help
President Glidden and the university administration in defending the
Dysart Woods site."
"This motion sends a powerful statement that Ohio must protect
Dysart Woods as a legacy for future generations," said Kister. "Ohio
University must take a strong stand against mining the watershed buffer
zone that President Glidden said he supports protecting."
Environmental Studies Graduate Student Senator Chad Kister
sponsored the resolution to save Dysart Woods that passed with a massive
19 to 2 majority.
Graduate Student Senate requests that the Ohio University
administration oppose the Ohio Valley Coal Co. permit #D0360-7 by any and
all legal means possible, as well as future applications to mine beneath
"This is the final piece of a massive orchestra of support for
protecting Dysart Woods from all sectors of Ohio University," said Kister.
"The top OU administration has been campaigning for the protection Dysart
Woods. Student Senate passed a resolution with unanimous support.
Faculty Senate voted 97 percent to suspend their rules and pass a motion
to protect the ancient forest. Now Graduate Student Senate has voted
overwhelmingly for the strongest resolution yet in the defense of Dysart
Woods. I encourage everyone to attend the upcoming rally, Saturday, Nov.
8 at 3 p.m. at the Ohio Division of Mines and Reclamations headquarters
in Columbus, 1855 Fountain Square Court Building H (off Morris Rd. just
passed Northland Shopping Center)."
In 1995, the U.S. Department of the Interior declared endangered
ecosystems as a primary concern for protecting biodiversity. The Eastern
old-growth-forest topped the list of the most endangered ecosystems left
in North America. According to the national report, "The secondary
forests, mostly in the Appalachian Plateau of Ohio, are heavily fragmented
by roads, gas pipelines, unreclaimed strip mines, clear-cuts and other
intrusions. Like most second-growth forests, they are structurally
impoverished to old-growth forests. Only some small patches of old-growth
forest remain in Ohio."
The Department of the Interior reported a greater than 99.9
percent loss of the old-growth forest in the central hardwood region
(including Ohio). In Ohio, we have lost more than 99.996 percent of our
ancient forest, with Dysart Woods being much of the remaining. Dysart is
listed as a National Natural Landmark administered under the Department of
the Interior. The federal government should be more involved in Dysart
Ohio Department of Natural Resources memo was "ludicrous in at
least half a dozen ways." said Plant Ecology Professor Brian McCarthey.
"It went against 30 years of declaring the forest of not only statewide
but national significance."
The report said the forest was in declining health and exotic
species were present in its parking area (which is hundreds of yards from
the ancient forest), that it was in two small patches and that there were
no endangered species. "With these criteria all of Ohio's ancient forest
are of no significance," McCarthy said.
OU Campus Greens President Chad Kister said, "The report was
politically motivated and baseless in supporting science. The report did
admit there were likely perched aquifers, which makes the forest very
sensitive to longwall mining within two miles of Dysart Woods. The report
erroneously stated that the trees use surface water, when irrefutable
scientific evidence shows the trees depend upon the perched aquifers. The
baseless condemnation of the only significant ancient forest of its kind
in Ohio shows that the State of Ohio has been bought off by Ohio Valley
Coal Company's multi-thousand dollar campaign contributions to Governor
Environmental and Plant Biology Department Chair James Braselton
said, "Think of Dysart Woods as a library filled with books some of which
we do not yet have the language to read that contain information beyond
our dreams about how plants and animals interact. If we allow anything to
alter the woods, we potentially destroy the information that is there, not
only for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and generations
This shows how it is politics, not truth or law that is controling
our government. And with the coal company having spent thousands of
dollars in campaign contributions, they call the shots even though they
are outnumbered thousands to one. This is the epitome of a bought-off
government that calls itself a democracy. The ODNR is a corrupt and
biased agency working for the coal company, and against the citizens of
Ohio. Laws are only good if they are properly enforced. We have shown
clearly how permit #7 violates Ohio law in that it would harm Dysart
Woods, the property of Ohio University, and that the coal company failed
to prove as it is required by law to do that it would not harm Dysart
Stirling said the division had received "hundreds and hundreds
letters against permit 6 and 7 and zero in favor of them."
"But he did not acknowledge any significance in this," Kister
said. "Apparently it is big money, not democracy that rules our
government, and it is at the risk of some of our last virgin forest."
Harry Payne said that the ODNR had said that it needed a million
dollar study before it could ascertain whether mining would damage Dysart
Woods. Kister asked, "So how can you make a conclusion on Permit 6 or 7
without that million dollar study?" They had no answer.
Kister wrote a letter in response to the meeting:
"I would like
to express my utter outrage at the politically-motivated decision to
declare Dysart Woods not of statewide significance and unsuitable to be
declared a state nature preserve. The Guy Denny memo Sept. 25 helped to
correct this, but the damage to this national treasure was done.
Second, I want to emphasize what Harry Payne said in the meeting,
that in 1988 ODNR Director Sommers said it would require a million dollar
geological and botanical study in order to determine the impacts of mining
on Dysart Woods. Without this study, how can the ODNR or the ODMR make
decisions? Clearly the decisions are not based on science, but politics
with our Governor bought off by Ohio Valley Coal Company.
Third, I want to express my opposition to permits #6 and #7.
would irreparably harm and kill our last ancient forest left in
Appalachian Ohio. We have lost 99.996 percent of our ancient forest in
Ohio, and to see the callous disregard for our remaining patches by
bought-off state regulators enrages the populace to action. As Ohio
University's lawyer, David Northrop, said at the hearing August 4, the
ODMR would be acting illegally if it granted permit 7 because OVCC had
failed to adequately determine the impacts mining would have on Dysart
Woods. Further, petition 6 mentions even less about Dysart Woods even
though it is upstream in close proximity of the forest, and should be
Lastly, I ask that you visit Dysart Woods and spend time in the
area you are considering permitting to be destroyed in violation of Ohio's
laws that you are pledged to uphold. The forest itself speaks to the
heart. The ambiance of 5-foot diameter trees 160 feet high with large
draping vines 6-8 inches in diameter invoked a spiritual awe that humbles
the soul and brings passion to our spirit. The multi-story canopy of
immense diversity is the only area we can go to in the Appalachian third
of Ohio to study how our state once was.
I am currently a Graduate Student in Environmental Studies at
University, and I can attest that Dysart Woods is a priceless and unique
jewel of nature that tops all the other nature preserves in Ohio in
ecological importance. There is a massive upswelling of outrage against
Ohio Valley Coal Company and the ODMR for working to allow mining so close
to the forest. The citizenry is watching close, and we will not tolerate
any violation of Dysart Woods' water supply or health. As Sommers said,
the ODNR must undertake a million dollar (plus inflation) study before it
can determine the impacts. We surely cannot rely on the coal company's
The centerpiece of the lands unsuitable petition is the map.
Buckeye Forest Council combined the original buffer zone that was
established by Ohio University and the ODNR in 1970 and several times
since, and the map submitted July 9 by Attorney David Northrop with the
science of Mary Stoertz. The key is proving a risk to the forest by
mining within the buffer zone being asked for.
The petition states, "The petitioners believe that the coal mining
operations could seriously affect the water table of the area and
detrimentally impact the old growth forest ecosystem of Dysart Woods.
(page 5). The petition notes that "Belmont meaning "beautiful mountain,"
and Ohio, meaning beautiful River, aptly describes the aesthetic resources
of the area."
The petition quotes Dr Ralph E.J. Boerner, Chair of the Ohio State
University Department of Plant Biology as saying, "Dysart Woods is
considered to be one of only three forest parcels left in Ohio which may
well represent pre-settlement, virgin forest."
The U.S. Geological Survey Circular 876 documented a variety of
impacts on hydrology, vegetation and animals, including the disruption of
"surface and underground flow, causing diminished well production, aquifer
contamination and decreased property values.... Methane gass may leak out
of shallow coal seams or mines thorugh (subsidence) fractures and kill
trees and woody plants, leaving only grasses unaffected.... these gases
disrupt the root transpiration in woody plants, ultimately killing them.
Noxious or toxic gases may also overcome animals grazing on the surface.
Another damage to plant life and associated wildlife is the
trough-like subsidence areas formed over areas of longwall mining. Unless
drainage is maintained, these depressions may fill with water, creating
swampy, tree-killing conditions and new type of habitats...collapse pits
and open fractures may trap animals or interrupt their migration patterns.
Losses of soil water or water in deeper aquifers through fractures created
by subsidence could be equally harmful to pland and animal life."
A report by OU Professor Moid Ahmad supported the watershed buffer
zone that includes portions of permit 7. The report shows how once an
area is mined, the water surface level is greatly disrupted because water
gravitates to lower aquifers instead of collecting at the surface. The
report cites five farms in Belmont County where water was lost after
A 1983 report to the ODNR about the affects of longwall mining
Meigs and Vinton Counties found numerous hydrological effects caused by
longwall mining subsidence.
Ohio Valley Coal Co. hired consultant Jeff Holt to conduct studies
of the potential impacts of their pending and future permits on Dysart
Woods. A team of six coal-company-paid "scientists" were in the forest
doing vegetative studies of the area.
Two classes of plant ecology visited the forest today to study
old-growth forests. Kister is in the grad class taught by Associate Plant
Biology Professor Brian McCarthy. Kister approached the researchers and
questioned politely what they were doing. When they admitted they were
paid by Ohio Valley Coal Co., Kister said, "How can you provide unbiased
data when you're paid by the coal company?"
Holt said, "You have just libeled me. I am going to sue you."
"You going to sue me?" Kister asked.
"You have a year to find out," Holt threatened. "I'd rather sue
you in Athens County where it will stick. If that's corrupt so be it."
Kister also talked to West Virginia University forester Ray Hicks
who was in the gathering of seven that witnessed the discussion. "I'm not
going to claim neutrality," Hicks said about his being paid by Ohio Valley
McCarthy joined the group and pleaded for them to protect Dysart
Woods because, "The old-growth forest is such a rarity in the landscape."
Hicks said he planned to present a paper at an upcoming National
Academy of Sciences conference about Dysart Woods, but wondered whether he
could because the coal company owned the data.
Holt said it is Ohio Valley Coal Co.'s policy to release data.
However, the coal company has yet to provide the studies that Ohio
University has asked for, despite the fact that the comment period for
permit #7 that threatens Dysart's watershed is up at the end of this
As Kister and McCarthy left, Holt said, "What are you going to
quote?" several times. Kister was silent. "If you quote me, I'm going to
sue you for slander," Holt said.
"These blatant intimidation tactics have no place in a democracy,"
Kister said. "Ohio Valley Coal Co. cannot win with truth, so it must
threaten SLAPP suits to silence its critics and destroy Dysart Woods for
its polluting greed."
Last June the coal company threatened to sue Dysart activist Lisa
That clause, 1501:13-3-07 B-7 states, "Any petition received after
the close of the public comment period on a permit application in the same
area described in the petition shall not prevent the chief from issuing a
decision on that permit application." Thus, the petition that the Buckeye
Forest Council submitted on Oct. 16 was well within the stated comment
period that ended Oct. 30 and therefore must be thoroughly considered with
the full public comment period before the issuance of Permit #7.
To be democratic, which seems a principle foreign to your
division, you should extend the comment period a year or so through the
consideration of the BFC lands unsuitable for mining petition.
At a League of Women Voter's public forum Nov. 6 in the Athens
Public Library meeting room OU Facilities Planning Director John Kotowski
said, "Area #7 does get into the watershed which does concern us. We
asked that the ODNR take out the watershed of permit #7."
About the Buckeye Forest Council's Lands Unsuitable for Mining
Petition, Kotowski said OU's legal council submitted it to their lawyer,
who studied it thoroughly. "Our people think it is complete," Kotowski
Therefore, with the voice of thousands upon thousands upon
thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people across Ohio and
throughout the United States and planet Earth, who have written and signed
petitions submitted to you, I ask that the Ohio Division of Mines and
Reclamations deny permit #7 or require that the entire area within the
Buckeye Forest Council's clear delineation line be off limits to mining
and out of any approved permit.
This buffer zone has been very clearly deliniated over decades
the ODMR and most recently by the perfection of the Buckeye Forest
Council's legal team. An approval to mine within the watershed buffer
zone of Dysart Woods would be an act against the will of the people that
must be checked by citizen power.
A year delay until the completion of a successful Buckeye Forest
Council's Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petition is the very least that the
ODMR can do to protect one of Ohio's most outstanding pieces of original
Therefore, the ODMR must delay a decision on permit #7 until all
such research has been done, the research analyzed by OU and all requested
information has been collected. Further, the team must fully reconsider
the impacts in light of the truth that a portion of the proposed mine is
in the direct watershed of the largest patch of ancient forest in Dysart
The report states, "The portion of the watershed that lies within
the Ohio University's buffer zone that is proposed to be undermined is a
separate sub-basin than the Dysart Woods watershed area and does not flow
through the Dysart Woods property." (page 11)
In fact, a portion of permit #7 is within the direct watershed
the largest area of virgin forest in Dysart Woods. Only some of permit
#7 is in a sub-basin within the same watershed, that still is integrally
connected to the health of Dysart Woods. Further, even using the
coal-company biased data in the report, the permit #7 impact of 1,900 feet
plunges thousands of feet deep into the direct watershed of some of the
last ancient forest left in Ohio.
This information is based upon Ohio University's watershed buffer
zone map submitted on July 9 by OU-hired attorney David Northrop. It is
irrefutable and I challenge anyone who disagrees to look at a map together
in front of the media as an objective force.
The report states, "Because discrepancies between field survey
data and soil survey information exist, Soil and Water Conservation staff
suggest that a detailed class 1 soil survey be performed on Dysart Woods"
(page 11-12). Further, the report states that potentiometric surface maps
for the different aquifers, more frequent water level measurements and
test wells on the Dysart property would help determine the impacts of
permit #7 on Dysart Woods.
Further, Dysart Woods is exceptionally dependent upon the perched
aquifers that are throughout the portion of ancient forest within a few
thousand feet of permit #7, and within the 1,900 ft. impact zone stated in
The report also said that Dysart Woods would make a good
experiment for the affects of longwall mining.
The 400 to 500 year old trees are among the last remnant of the
vast Eastern Deciduous Forest that was once the largest forest in the
world. This critical biological resource is of massive global importance.
At a League of Women Voter's forum to save Dysart Woods held at the Athens
Public Library, Ohio University Plant Biology Professor Brian McCarthy
said, "99.999 percent of Ohio's original old-growth forest has been cut.
This is all we have got."
But this ancient forest is in imminent threat by a pending permit
to mine within the watershed of Dysart Woods that Ohio Division of Mines
and Reclamations (ODMR) officials say could be days away.
The rally Saturday focused on the ODMR at their headquarters in
Columbus. Buckeye Forest Council Coordinator Jason Tockman proclaimed,
"If they pass this permit we will appeal in court. If they win the appeal
we will appeal again. If we lose that we will stop this with direct
action!" The crowd of hundreds cheered in support.
Ohio University Campus Greens President Chad Kister said, "The
Administration submitted comments July 9 by Columbus Lawyer David Northrop
stating that it would be illegal against the law if the ODMR approved
permit #7. On August 4, one hundred percent of the more than 70 citizens
including top OU Administrators spoke in opposition to permit #7 and for
saving Dysart Woods at an official ODMR public hearing.
"OU Student Senate has passed two motions in opposition to Permit
#6 and Permit #7. Graduate Student Senate passed a very strong resolution
for saving Dysart Woods 19-2 that I sponsored as a Graduate Student
Senator. Ninety Seven Percent of Faculty Senate voted for a resolution
opposing permit #7 and calling upon the OU Administration and the ODMR to
deny permit #7."
"If democracy is alive today, the ODMR must deny Permit #7!"
Kister exalted to an uproar of hundreds of cheers from the weathered
citizens from all across Ohio.
In documents requested by Environmentalist Chad Kister, John Burns
gave a document showing the proposed buffer zones, with OU clearly
indicated the amount of coal and the cost as the only variables of
consideration in the two buffer zones.
The first buffer zone listed is the smallest - 1,000 feet from
old-growth forest sections of Dysart Woods. It is only "350 to 375 acres"
and does not even cover about a third of the 455 acre Dysart Woods nature
preserve that OU owns! Yet it appears OU is choosing this option. The
only other listings of information on the map other than the size is the
amount of coal and its value. For the first proposal, the amount of coal
is 2.45 to 2.6 million tons of coal "valued between $53.9" million "and
The second is 1,285 feet from the old-growth forest. It would
an additional 106 acres to the first proposal. It would add an additional
725,000 tons of and "an additional $16" million.
"OU's proposed buffer zone ignores the watershed of the ancient
forest and doesn't even protect a third of the Dysart Woods nature
preserve area," Kister said. "OU is selling out Dysart Woods for the
profits of Ohio Valley Coal Co. at the expense of the virgin forest that
OU owns and is legally pledged to protect.
OU's documents reveal that OU's attorney instructed their hired
consultant to remove sections dealing with Mary Stoertz, OU's own
scientist who drafted the watershed buffer zone that OU turned in July 9,
1997 just last summer as OU's proposed buffer zone.
OU's attorney, David Northrop last summer called for protecting
this full watershed buffer zone. On Feb. 24 this year Northrop issued a
letter to OU's scientific consultant for Dysart Woods, Richard Parizek of
Penn State university, asking that he "delete the references to Mary
Stoertz' work. We are requesting a 1,000 foot buffer zone around the
boundaries of the old-growth forest area."
That means OU is only asking for a 350 to 375 acre buffer zone,
times smaller than the watershed buffer zone that OU President Robert
Glidden said he supported protecting at OU's Faculty Senate meeting
October 20, 1997 (Kister has it on tape), and that Faculty Senate voted
with a 96 percent majority to endorse protecting with a strong motion
(also available from Kister). Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate
also passed motions asking that this buffer zone be protected from mining.
Thousands of letters have been sent to the ODMR, Governor George Voinovich
and Glidden asking that they protect the watershed buffer zone from
"OU is suppressing its own researchers to further the aims of
coal company. OU is deciding the fate of Dysart Woods based on the bottom
line of Ohio Valley Coal Co. In gross violation of its legal committment
to protect Dysart Woods," Kister said. "For a quarter century OU has
successfully fought off mining threats to the buffer zone. We cannot
tolerate the destruction of the last .004 percent of the ancient forest
remaining in Ohio."
Further, Moyd Ahmed, who scientifically delineated the original
watershed buffer zone, wrote to OU administrators this past December
asking that they support the Buckeye Forest Council's Petition for Lands
Unsuitable for Mining which would protect the full 4,170 acre watershed
buffer zone based in part on Ahmed's studies.
The OU Campus Greens, Student Senate and a dozen other student
organizations requested in January that OU have a public hearing on the
decision to cut the buffer zone so massively, but OU has refused, acting
instead like a private corporation. Kister has asked top administrators
every week since January for a public hearing, but again they refused.
Kister asked within the allotted time to be on the Board of Trustees
meeting agenda but OU refused. Students protested OU's cutting the buffer
zone 12 times by chanting at the meeting.
This is destined to be a powerful event in the struggle to Save
Dysart Woods by demonstrating statewide committment to saving Dysart
Woods. Don't miss it.
At a talk before hundreds of students, OU Geography Professor
Bernard said, "Collaboration won't work at this point. Resistance is the
There has been a full-scale movement to save Dysart Woods, and
political action in favor of the coal mine. Yet the ODMR seems poised to
issue an illegal, undemocratic approval of permit #7 while their own
scientists say much more study is needed. The ODMR appears to be ready to
approve permit #7 any time. We need an army of concerned citizens ready
to enforce democracy and save Dysart Woods.
Many groups locally and statewide are working to save Dysart
Woods. But we still seem far from the critical mass of political power
that we need to win. Columbus bureaucrats are so sheltered and
politicians so bought off by Ohio Valley Coal Co. that Dysart Woods needs
tremendous help now.
Bernard last year co-authored the successful book The Ecology
Hope. He said, "When I had writer's block I just sat in the woods for
inspiration. It would be tragic if in 50 years, people have no place to
go like that to be inspired by what they see."