September 29, 1997

Contact: Environmental Activist Chad Kister 594-7287 or

Ohio Government sells out ancient forest

 The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, against 30 years of
spoken commitment to preserve Dysart Woods as Ohio's only significant
ancient forest left in Appalachian Ohio, called the National Natural
Landmark "not of statewide significance" in a September 9 memo to Lisa
Morris, Chief of the division of Mines and Reclamation.

 In 1995, the U.S. Department of the Interior declared endangered
ecosystems as a primary concern for protecting biodiversity.  The Eastern
old-growth-forest topped the list of the most endangered ecosystems left
in North America.  According to the national report, "The secondary
forests, mostly in the Appalachian Plateau of Ohio, are heavily fragmented
by roads, gas pipelines, unreclaimed strip mines, clear-cuts and other
intrusions.  Like most second-growth forests, they are structurally
impoverished to old-growth forests.  Only some small patches of old-growth
forest remain in Ohio."

 The Department of the Interior reported a greater than 99.9
percent loss of the old-growth forest in the central hardwood region
(including Ohio).  In Ohio, we have lost more than 99.996 percent of our
ancient forest, with Dysart Woods being much of the remaining.  Dysart is
listed as a National Natural Landmark administered under the Department of
the Interior.  The federal government should be more involved in Dysart
Woods' preservation.

 Ohio Department of Natural Resources memo was "ludicrous in at
least half a dozen ways." said Plant Ecology Professor Brian McCarthey.
"It went against 30 years of declaring the forest of not only statewide
but national significance."

 The report said the forest was in declining health and exotic
species were present in its parking area (which is hundreds of yards from
the ancient forest), that it was in two small patches and that there were
no endangered species.  "With these criteria all of Ohio's ancient forest
are of no significance," McCarthy said.

 OU Campus Greens President Chad Kister said, "The report was
politically motivated and baseless in supporting science.  The report did
admit there were likely perched aquifers, which makes the forest very
sensitive to longwall mining within two miles of Dysart Woods.  The report
erroneously stated that the trees use surface water, when irrefutable
scientific evidence shows the trees depend upon the perched aquifers.  The
baseless condemnation of the only significant ancient forest of its kind
in Ohio shows that the State of Ohio has been bought off by Ohio Valley
Coal Company's multi-thousand dollar campaign contributions to Governor
George Voinovich."

 Environmental and Plant Biology Department Chair James Braselton
said, "Think of Dysart Woods as a library filled with books  some of which
we do not yet have the language to read  that contain information beyond
our dreams about how plants and animals interact.  If we allow anything to
alter the woods, we potentially destroy the information that is there, not
only for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and generations