The Wheeling Intelligencer; March 18, 2003

OU Compromise Outrages Dysart Woods Defenders


  A rumored compromise between Ohio University and the Ohio Valley Coal Co. over mining rights underneath Dysart Woods in Belmont County has angered the group charged with protecting the old-growth forest.

  The measure also has raised an eyebrow with officials at the coal company, who said more than a year ago there are no plans to conduct longwall mining operations underneath Dysart Woods.

Coal company spokesman Steve Cohen said Monday Ohio Valley Coal only intends to construct tunnels underneath Dysart Woods that could be used for transportation and ventilation.

  "Nothing has changed since (the announcement of) November 2001," Cohen said. "This baffles us."

  A news release issued by Dysart Defenders coordinator Chad Kister stated that Ohio University President Robert Glidden had reached a compromise with the coal company just a few months ago.

  That compromise only stated that Ohio University would not contest the mining permit currently being studied by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in exchange for Ohio Valley "doing things that they ordinarily do not do."

  Kister called this action "outrageous" and "totally wrong," and he has asked Glidden to hold a public hearing to discuss the college's position on Dysart Woods.

Kister said decisions such as this should not be made behind closed doors.

  "This goes against the promise OU made to the Nature Conservancy to protect the watershed from all types of mining," Kister said.

  Kister said Ohio Valley Coal has twisted its promise not to mine underneath the old-growth forest as a promise not to longwall mine underneath the area.

He said the company will still conduct room-and-pillar mining.

  "The mining plan has absolutely no impact on Dysart Woods," Cohen said.

"We have given (Dysart Defenders) everything they want. We will let the ODNR act on our application to mine."