Ohio University’s (OU) agreement to drop the appeal against Ohio Valley Coal Company’s permit to undermine the old growth forest at Dysart Woods went against its top scientists working on Dysart Woods, the land’s supervisor Brian McCarthy and the land’s caretakers. The decision also went against the OU Ecology Committee decision, and numerous resolutions by Student Senate, Faculty Senate and Graduate Student Senate.

OU Professor Brian McCarthy said that he made it clear to the university, as the lead professor at OU studying Dysart Woods and the supervisor of the land laboratory, that he opposed the university’s dropping its appeal. McCarthy is the expert witness for the Dysart Defenders appeal.

The OU Ecology Committee heard the issue through the spring of last year at many meetings. The committee is the guiding body of Ohio University on environmental issues, and is made up of a majority of administrators, as well as faculty, a graduate student and an undergraduate student. They decided unanimously on a motion calling upon OU to appeal the D-0360-12 permit that allows the direct undermining of the old growth forest at Dysart Woods. The committee’s chair is Geoffery Buckley.

Dysart Woods is a National Natural Landmark; it is the most significant of the .004 percent of remaining ancient forest left in Ohio; and it is among the most endangered ecosystem in the world according to the United States Department of Interior.

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich wrote a letter to OU President Robert Glidden and all of OU’s Board of Trustees requesting that they act to protect the full 4,170 acre watershed buffer zone of Dysart Woods from all types of mining. To not act to protect the old growth forest from mining directly underneath it is a gross violation of the university’s pledge to the Nature Conservancy that it would act to preserve Dysart Woods.

Everyone knew when that pledge was signed in 1966 that coal mining would be the threat to Dysart Woods. Professors and community members valiantly fought off coal mining threats to Dysart Woods in 1970, 1975 and 1987-1991; and since 1997 there has been a massive movement in Ohio to protect the ancient forest.

Ohio University needs to intervene in support of the Dysart Defenders and the Buckeye Forest Council’s appeals to support efforts to stop mining under the old growth forest. Studying the effects is not the purpose of the appeal. It is to stop the damaging effects on the last place in southeast Ohio where we can study an old growth forest as unaffected by humans as we have left. If mining takes place, it will be like the rest of the 99.996 percent of ravaged lands in Ohio: what a legacy to leave in 2004.

Contact: Chad Kister (740) 707-4110 or

Appears in Issue: