The 400 to 500 year old trees are among the last remnant of the
vast Eastern Deciduous Forest that was once the largest forest in the
world. This critical biological resource is of massive global importance.
At a League of Women Voter's forum to save Dysart Woods held at the Athens
Public Library, Ohio University Plant Biology Professor Brian McCarthy
said, "99.999 percent of Ohio's original old-growth forest has been cut.
This is all we have got."
But this ancient forest is in imminent threat by a pending permit
to mine within the watershed of Dysart Woods that Ohio Division of Mines
and Reclamations (ODMR) officials say could be days away.
The rally Saturday focused on the ODMR at their headquarters in
Columbus. Buckeye Forest Council Coordinator Jason Tockman proclaimed,
"If they pass this permit we will appeal in court. If they win the appeal
we will appeal again. If we lose that we will stop this with direct
action!" The crowd of hundreds cheered in support.
Ohio University Campus Greens President Chad Kister said, "The
Administration submitted comments July 9 by Columbus Lawyer David Northrop
stating that it would be illegal against the law if the ODMR approved
permit #7. On August 4, one hundred percent of the more than 70 citizens
including top OU Administrators spoke in opposition to permit #7 and for
saving Dysart Woods at an official ODMR public hearing.
"OU Student Senate has passed two motions in opposition to Permit
#6 and Permit #7. Graduate Student Senate passed a very strong resolution
for saving Dysart Woods 19-2 that I sponsored as a Graduate Student
Senator. Ninety Seven Percent of Faculty Senate voted for a resolution
opposing permit #7 and calling upon the OU Administration and the ODMR to
deny permit #7."
"If democracy is alive today, the ODMR must deny Permit #7!"
Kister exalted to an uproar of hundreds of cheers from the weathered
citizens from all across Ohio.
A major misconception is that Dysart Woods' trees are all dying
old age. Though some of the 500 year old trees may be nearing what some
scientists think are the end of their life span, white oaks twice the size
of those at Dysart Woods exist in photographs of the late 1800s in Ohio.
Existing trees in Dysart are 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450
year old trees that will replace those that die of old age. Unless
destroyed by mining or other human causes, Dysart Woods will survive
forever as an ancient forest.