For Immediate Release:   March 12, 2003

Contact: Chad Kister: (740) 753-5716 or 707-4110 or

Ohio University considers compromise with Ohio Valley Coal

            Ohio University is considering reaching a compromise with Ohio Valley Coal Company and the Ohio Division of Natural Resources in which the university would not appeal the pending Ohio Valley Coal Company permit D-0360-12 that would allow the undermining of the 455-acre Dysart Woods.

            Burns said that the ODNR is planning to consult a third party to study the issue, and that they will issue a revision letter in a few weeks for the –12 permit.  “We use the term compromise: they do things that they ordinarily would not, and we would not appeal,” he said.

            Burns said that he would consult with a scientist Richard Parisek from Penn State. 

            Last November, President Glidden told a large group of Dysart Defenders that he had proposed a compromise in which OVCC could dig a tunnel to get to coal on the other side of Dysart Woods.

            In a meeting with Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Chief Michael Sponsler in December, permit manager Scott Stiteler said that it was unnecessary to tunnel through Dysart Woods, since OVCC already had access to two sides of it.

            “President Glidden said that the main reason that they needed the tunnel that is in the –12 permit was that they needed to get to the coal reserves on the other side of Dysart Woods?  It’s my understanding that they’ve pretty much mined all around it and they should have plenty of access points,” Kister asked Stiteler.

            “The –7 is north of it,” Siteler said.  “The 9 is south of it.  I’ve never heard them claim that personally.”  Stiteler is the permit manager for the –12 permit, and should be the first to know about any such reasoning.  When Burns contacted Sponsler, he denied that Stiteler said that.  Kister has it on tape, which is available upon request.

            Dysart Defenders Coordinator Chad Kister asked OU President Glidden to hold a public hearing about Ohio University’s position on Dysart Woods, so decisions that affect the public are not made behind closed doors.

            Dr. McCarthy said that there are three books in the works advocating tourism to old growth forest, and that all three of them feature Dysart Woods as a prominent example of an old growth forest in Ohio.

            Sponsler said that it was necessary for the applicant, Ohio Valley Coal Company to demonstrate that they would not harm Dysart Woods.  “Both Dr. Brown and I know, that the data is not there in the primary literature to make that claim,” Dr. McCarthy Said.  “It’s not there.  So how can any permit be granted when they can’t demonstrate that?”

            “Well, that is the decision before us,” Sponsler said.

            “I don’t see pros for Ohio University and its students.  It makes me ask: ‘where’s the compromise,’” said Zach Gibbons-Ballew, Ohio University Senior and President of OU’s Dysart Defenders chapter.

            “Why hasn’t Ohio University had a public hearing to discuss the students’ and administrations’ views in an open forum?” asked Jost Bears, Ohio University Senior.

            “Dysart Woods was entrusted to OU under the stipulation that OU would protect it forever.  At the Dysart Defenders rally on November 13, 2002, OU President Robert Glidden gave incorrect statements about the issue.  How can the OU administration be protecting the forest if they don’t even know what is going on,” said Sarah Fick, Ohio University Senior and POPLAR member.