To the editor,

While the legal struggle to save Dysart Woods might be immensely complex, the current situation is simple: those who value our last .004 percent of remaining ancient forest in Ohio need to speak up fast or it will be gone. Please try to attend an upcoming public hearing at 2 p.m., Wednesday May 15 in Belmont County.

Ohio Valley Coal Company (OVCC) has pending permits to mine all of Dysart Woods and its watershed with longwall and room and pillar mining. Dysart Defenders’ expert hydrologist and forest ecologist both say this would be disastrous for the old growth forest and would take away its uniqueness of being a remnant original forest that can be studied as a benchmark for what used to cover 95 percent of Ohio.

Ecologically, this is an exceptionally important issue. The most important key to the survival of a critical mass of biodiversity is to save all of its parts, particularly all of its ecosystems. In a 1996 U.S. Department of Interior Study, Reid Noss found that the Ohio Division of Natural Resources has to some degree protected Pleistocene relics like fens and bogs but has failed to protect ancient forests that once made up 95 percent of what was the heart of the largest forest in the world.

Dysart Woods, narrowly spared logging in 1960, now faces brutal and unnecessary coal mining for high-sulfur, polluting coal that we have no shortage of. With 99.996 percent of our original forest having been lost in Ohio, and the eastern deciduous old-growth forest being among the rarest ecosystem on Earth, it is the entirely undisturbed nature of Dysart Woods that we have the most shortage of.

But the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources (ODMR) has approved mining directly underneath Dysart Woods with permit D-0360-9, that Dysart Defenders has appealed. But we need help to sustain the appeal. Go to for more information.

Worse, OVCC has pending permits to mine all of Dysart Woods, including the old growth forest areas. The ODMR has scheduled a public hearing with short notice in the middle of a week day. It is Wednesday, May 15 at 2 p.m. in the Red Room of the Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Call (740) 594-7287 for carpool information.

How can we morally look our children in the eyes if we let Dysart Woods fall in this, the year 2002? Please skip work or school and be there May 15 for the fate of our ancient forest.

Chad Kister