August 5, 1997

David Northrop, OU-consulted attorney: 614-484-3232
Gary North, OU Vice President for Administration: 593-2555
John Kotowski, OU Director of Facilities Manager: 593-2727
Chad Kister, Environmental Activist: 614-594-7287 or

Ohio University speaks against mine threatening ancient forest

 Ohio University Vice President for Administration spoke against
more-than four square mile longwall coal mine that encroaches the
watershed of Dysart Woods at a public hearing in Belmont County held by
the Ohio Division of Mines and Reclamation August 4.

 "The number seven permit encroaches on that area designated as a
buffer zone and particularly the watershed area that could impact the
future of Dysart Woods.  We are especially concerned with the southwest
corner of the petition that overlaps the buffer zone, the designated area
that people working with us have suggested needs to be protected from
mining in order to protect the water source that feeds these trees," North
said at the hearing.

 We are greatly concerned about this continued encroachment.
Petition 6, now petition 7, possibly a petition 8 to come shortly
thereafter which would bring mining even closer and possibly under the
woods.  As we have said on previous occasions, we believe some mutually
established and agreed to restriction or buffer zone is the most
appropriate way to protect the woods and the area around the woods.

 It is important I believe, however, that the woods needs to be
protected and that the best way to do that is to come up with some
commonly agreed and accepted boundaries around these woods which do assure
that activity that causes threat or pose danger to the woods will not be
taken.  It is for that reason we are here to speak to you today.  Mr.
David Northrop who is special council to Ohio University for Environmental
Concerns will speak specifically to our concerns of petition 7.

 Attorney David Northrop said, "Dr. North has spoken eloquently
that we believe longwall mining in area 7 may harm Dysart Woods.  Dysart
Woods lies less than a half mile to the South of permit #7 so it is very
close.  This permit is coming perilously close to Dysart Woods.  Dysart
Woods  is in our view the crown jewel of Ohio's natural areas and
preserves.  It should be preserved and protected at all costs."

 Northrop noted that the more-than thousand page petition only had
one page on Dysart Woods.  That page, he continued, referred to a
coal-company financed study that said longwall mining had no affect on
surface water.  The audience laughed boisterously.  Numerous local farmers
had just testified to how their streams, springs and surface water dried
up because of longwall mining.  Northrop noted that the very permit that
this statement was made in showed how longwall mining had drained a well
more than 745 feet from the actual mining.

 Northrop said, "In our view this is a superficial analysis and
falls woefully short of the kind of information the division needs to
fully answer the impact the mine may have on Dysart Woods.  The applicant
bears the burden.  Not Ohio University.  Not the Division of Mines and
Reclamation.  It is Ohio Valley Coal who nears the burden as a matter of
law to demonstrate they are eligible for the permit.  To do so they need
to show there is no impacts to the Dysart Woods.  In our view this
application falls far short of meeting that burden.  The burden  I think
should be far greater given the unique nature of Dysart Woods."

 Northrop asked for site-specific data from studies within the
watershed of Dysart Woods to show without a doubt that mining would not
affect the water table at the ancient forest.  "These are old trees.
Trees do not grow hardier with age, they grow more fragile.  They require
more water as they grow and are more susceptible to harm from loss of

 "The Southwest portion of area #7 goes through and is located upon
the watershed in which Dysart Woods is located.  Now we know, it is beyond
dispute that there will be an affect upon the water in the area directly
above the mine workings within the very watershed in which Dysart Woods
are located.  There will be a loss of springs without a doubt.  There will
be a lowering of the water table without a doubt.

 Northrop continued, "We need site-specific information to
demonstrate without a doubt there will not be a lowering of the water
table at Dysart Woods.  That information is not in the permit.  To our
knowledge that information does not exist, the study has not been
performed.  The division in our view does not act in accordance of law if
it issues this permit without first requesting that information be
gathered to be submitted to and be evaluated by all constituents.  We
therefore ask that the permit in its present form not be issued."

Ohio University submits comments opposing Belmont Mine

 A law firm representing Ohio University submitted pages of
scientifically documented facts showing why permit 7 must be denied
because it would undermine the watershed of Dysart Woods that is critical
to the health of the last significant stand of ancient mixed mesophytic
forest left in the world.

 The comments were submitted to the Ohio Division of Mines and
Reclamation July 9, within the comment period for Permit D-360-7 that
threatens Dysart Woods.  They state,

 "The university objects to the application ... due to the adverse
effect that longwall mining in the southwest portion of the application
area may have on the Dysart Woods Laboratory ...  The university has owned
Dysart Woods since 1966, acquiring them from the Nature Conservancy under
a commitment to preserve the woods in their natural state in perpetuity.
Dysart Woods are well known to your department, and much information
pertaining to that unique natural and environmental resource is available
to you from the Division of Forestry and Division of Natural Areas and

 "The unique value of the woods caused the area to be declared as a
National Natural Landmark by the United States Department of Interior.
The woods are thus an irreplaceable and enormously valuable natural area,
and their loss would represent an environmental tragedy of great

 "The old growth trees in Dysart Woods, because of their great size
and age, require a stable and abundant supply of water.  Coal mining, due
to its effect on the hydrologic balance of the area to be mined and nearby
lands, presents a very real threat to the well-being of the trees."

 To receive a faxed copy of the 7-page comments, please contact
Chad Kister at 448-3343.