Protesters rally to save Dysart Woods
by Erica Bush
The Dysart Defenders
hoped games of Twister and protest postcards would make an
effective plea to Ohio University President Robert Glidden to
save Dysart Woods.
At the rally
yesterday at the West Portico of the Templeton-Blackburn
Alumni Memorial Auditorium, a meager turnout gathered and
maneuvered themselves into unusual positions as they played a
game of Twister with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,
OU and the Ohio Valley Coal Company as icons on the
The Dysart Defenders’
version of the game aimed to demonstrate that people can fall
down during Twister, just like trees can fall down if the Ohio
Valley Coal Company is allowed to mine under the woods, said
coordinator Chad Kister.
Protestors gathered to
present Glidden with more than 300 postcards they collected
from Athens residents, students and OU faculty members, urging
him to do as much as he could to protect the
“OU says they have
little power, but that is not the case,” Kister said.
Glidden addressed the
crowd stating he appreciated the protestors’ passion for
Dysart Woods but reminded them that OU does not own the
forest’s mining rights.
The university has
engaged the services of environmental attorney Robert Shostak,
who will tell OU officials whether or when to appeal the
permit. OU will do everything they can to protect the woods,
But he said he does not
know where permit approval stands, because no news concerning
Ohio Valley Coal Company’s permit has been released in at
least two months, he said.
“In these particular
times, this does not occupy my every thought every day,”
Months or even years
could pass before a decision is reached, and at a time when
nothing is new, a protest is unpractical, Glidden said. A time
will come when pressure will be more appropriate, but that
time is not now.
But gatherers thought
that the timing was appropriate.
This is a time to be irritated and
angry, and Glidden is treating protestors like pests, said
Cusi Gibbons, a member of Protecting Ohio’s Public Land Air
and Rivers group.
Glidden also used the
opportunity to question the effectiveness of the postcards
presented to him.
He said it
will take more than the 300 postcards he received to appeal
the permit, because the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources is
the ultimate decision maker.
But Kister said he
thinks the postcards can have beneficial results. After
petitions were presented to Glidden in a fall protest, the
university hired Shostak.
forests, which are plots of land that have not been harmed by
human development, make up only 0.004 percent of all forests
in the state, Kister said. That makes Dysart Woods a valuable