More than a dozen EPA emailed comments opposed all three of Ohio Valley Coal Company's valley fill permits

Emails sent to OEPA:
  • Andrew Coslow
  • Alden Waitt
  • Lisa Helms
  • Paul Wiehl
  • Helen Stanford
  • Damon Krane
  • Randy Boehm
  • Barbara Rogers
  • Janet Fout
  • William Gresham
  • Don Treppel
  • Jan Tague
  • Roger Digel-Barrett
  • Colleen Weaver
  • Chad Kister
  • Kat Cline

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    Ohio EPA
    Division of Surface Water
    Attention: Permits processing unit

    I am a graduating senior at Ohio University.  I have been following
    the Ohio Valley Coal Company and their actions surrounding Dysart
    Woods for some time.  It seems to have always been a muddy subject–
    pitting coal intersts and jobs against the enviornment.

    The three proposed permits:  Perkins Run waste facility, Captina
    Creek destruction, and Captina Creek dumping are not quite so
    ambigious.  The OVCC has illegally bulldozed Captina Creek.  They
    broke the law.  It wasn't by accident.  They were testing, and the
    EPA has shuffled their feet ever since.  Now that same company wants
    to be trusted to dump mining waste and construct a waste facility.  I
    think it is deplorable.

    The Captina Creek site is one of Ohio's cleanest bodies of water-
    getting a rating of exceptional warmwater habitat.  It is home to an
    endangered species.  This should be an easy decision. 

    A company that knowingly broke environmental law now wants to be
    trusted with one of Ohio's cleanest bodies of water.  It is time to
    send a message to all coal interests: you do not make the rules, 
    we do.

    thank you,

    andrew coslow
    143 Grosvenor
    Athens Oh 45701
    (740) 589-7809

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    Dear Sir:

    No one there should be making ANY decision on the future of Dysart Woods
    without gotin to see the forest.  It is inconceivable to me that anyone
    would even think of  granting the three permits OVCC is applying for and it
    has neverneen explained to me why OVCC has not been severely penalized for
    their illegal destruction of the valley, including the stream that flowed
    there, before the public hearing regarding the permits for such action had
    even taken place. What insanity to allow 72,000 gallons of polluted
    discharge to be sent out day into Captina Creek, one of 
    Ohio's cleanest water bodies.  I am opposed to all three of three permits
    OVCC is applying for .  I have been to the area in question and was and am
    grateful for its existence for naturalists, botanists, of all of us who
    care about our environment.  Please do not allow greed to make this decision.

    Thank you,

    Alden Waitt (Ms.)
    P.O. Box 312
    Athens, OH  45701 

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    Letter to OEPA by Lisa Helms
    In reference to the Ohio Valley Coal 401 Application you heard last week on Tues at Belmont Tech, I would like to add the followingcomments. 

    There was alot of emotion from the miners who felt their jobs are threatened and alot of the same old argument that the Ohio Valley Coal is the largest payroll etc...  Our organization represents the faction of over 50, 000 people in Belmont County who are NOT mine affiliated. WE ARE THREATENED TOO.

    For example, I live in Barnesville. In the late 70's they strip mined Egypt Valley to provide jobs and development. Less than 10 years later, there were no jobs, no palatable water, no coal and nothing left of our property tax base. We now pay 1.5% income tax and have four levies on the books just to keep our school open. Our water supply is surface collection only. Where is the development? The only thing that is being developed is the owner's personal net worth. There are now 600 farmers out of work...the coal company didnt mind taking their water and  putting them out of work. 

    The EPA is bound by Federal Minumum standards to protect the Public Health. If economics is now a apart of that look at what the operation of Ohio valley Coal is doing to the rest of the county, we are burdened until our backs can't hold anymore. The jobs ARE replaceable by the industry that will replace either the energy supply or the reclamation of the current and abandoned mines. There are monies and training programs available for the true development of our economy. Besides, THIS IS BAD COAL

    If Coal mining is such good business for the econmy why are the ten poorest counties in the state in the coalfields? Despite billions in coal beneath our feet, we are the most heavily taxed, have the largest welfare rolls and pay twicw as much fro the power than what they pay in Franklin County? Where is the development. 

    A few hundred scared people that are insecure in theri jobs are not worth the loss of fresh water to everybody else. We need water to live, we dont need miners or this high-sulfur coal to survive. There are many cleaner and better elternatives than  the ones presented by the OVC.  Consider backfilling the void behind the longwall with the waste. They have been doing it in Europe for over thirty years all the while selling their coal on the global market. OVC CHOOSES not to consider these options for they might only make 40billion instead of 50billion. How many billion does one comany need and isnt the rest just greed?

    Isn't the protection of our water supply worth a few dollars somewhere? These men will find other work, it has been true for over 100 years.  The coal industry has laid off people for that long and communites have survived, Belmont County has alot going for it.   There has NEVER been another industry come here for the coal. Actually being in the active coalfields is the reason used more often for other industry NOT coming here. 

    Please do as you have been charged to do and seek a non-degradation plan that employs backfilling the void or protection of the 100'  buffer zone as established by federal minimum standards. Do this for the rest of the people of Belmont County not just a relatively few miners mining bad coal. 

    Lisa Helms,
    Belmont County

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    Dear Mr. Johnson,
            This is concerning the the Ohio Valley Coal Company's pending permits
    for waste disposal in Belmont County. Mr. Kister has notified me that
    one of these permits allows for the discharge of 72,000 gallons of waste
    water per day into environmentally sensitive Creek. I have also been
    informed that the performance and compliance of OVCC to the best
    industrial and environmental standards have been less than stellar. The
    presence of an endangered species (E. Hellbender) give me even greater
    concern of the potential irreversible damage. As you well know
    amphibians are very sensitive to fluxes of pH in their habitat. 
            My interaction in the past with both Washington County oil "patch"
    workers and Meigs County Coal workers, I was surprised by their cavalier
    attitude to property owners and the environment in general. So I am not
    surprised when Mr. Kister tells me that OVCC has performed illegal
    bulldozing. This activity denotes a "Better to ask for forgiveness than
    permission." attitude. Have you established a base line of these runs
    and creeks as they are now?  Can you as the EPA monitor daily the
    conduct of OVCC activities? Can you levy fines greater than the profits
    of the coal that is extracted? I see too many streams in my own county
    that run rust colored and highly silted. 
            Please do not give these permits unless you can without doubt protect
    this area.

                                    Thank you for your attention,

                                            Paul Wiehl
                                            3 Mary St. 
                                            Athens Ohio

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    Letter to OEPA by Helen Stanford
    Hello.  I am Helen Stanford. I live in Smith township, Belmont County, Ohio and I attended the hearing at Belmont Tech Tuesday night.  I am wondering if you know anything about the conditions of Bend Fork Creek and what goes on down there??   Wetland, trees, animals does not have a chance to grow and live down there.  You see, that area and farther up the creek (for 2-3 miles) is now known as "Seven Creeks"  to the 4 wheelers and big truckers (those mud trucks-I don't know what they are called).  Infact I heard a woman say last summer that it is known to be one of the best 4wheeling creeks in the USA.  All kinds of "things" happen down there.  Our Smith township Fire Department has to cover that area and last summer they had to "Life Flight" 2 or 3 different times from there plus all the other injured people they can have to haul out to the hospitals.  You may telelphone Henry Saunders (Fire Dept.) at 10740-686-2412 to ask them about this.  Lots of the people come in from Captina Highway (SR.148) across Captina Creek to get to Seven Creeks.   There would be no way to keep the people out of there except having a police FORCE standing guard all over at all times down there.  Our sheriff does not have the men or the money to have a special force living there.  People come from all over the United States to be there on weekends.  Please think twice before you accept this from Bobby Murray.     (I own 2 little pieces of land down there and I won't go down there by myself and not ever on a weekend)  All I can say is ------BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!   Don't do it.   Thank you for your time.        Helen Stanford

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    Dear Mr. Johnson,

         I am opposed to the Ohio Valley Coal Company's plans to fill the 
    Perkins Run area with coal waste, and I feel that three permits OVCC have 
    applied for should all be denied due to the following:

    1.) The OVCC has already violated the public's trust and the law by 
    bulldozing Perkins Run and have proven themselves "unreliable" when it comes 
    to providing accurate data.  Such actions alone should warrant the denial of 
    all pending permits, not to mention more serious consequences for OVCC.

    2.) Since Captiva Creek is among the highest quality-rated bodies of water 
    in the state, 72,000 gallons of polluted water per day would seem to pose a 
    great threat to maintaining that level of quality.

    3.) Captiva Creek is also home to the endangered Eastern Hellbender 
    salamander, which would also likely be harmed by 72,000 of polluted water 
    per day.

         Any of one of the above points is reason enough for denying the three 
    permits OVCC has applied for.  When all three are taken into account, I have 
    a hard time imagining any other just outcome.

    Damon Krane
    127 S. Green Dr.
    Atehns, OH 45701

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    Mr. Johnson,

    I’m writing to voice my opposition to the granting of three permits 
    to the Ohio Valley Coal Company. 

    The first of the sought after permits would allow OVCC to destroy 
    Perkins Run. The company has already illegally begun bulldozing the 
    creek. Rather than reward this behavior with a permit, I would like 
    to know why action has not been taken against OVCC? If they are 
    allowed to get away with disregarding the law in this fashion and be 
    rewarded with the granting of a permit to do what they have already 
    illegally started, it would set a terrible precedent.

    The second permit would allow OVCC to dump up to 72,000 gallons of 
    polluted discharge into Captina Creek per day. Captina Creek is one 
    of Ohio’s cleanest bodies of water and has been described as an 
    “exceptional warm-water habitat”, by Ohio EPA permit specialist Mike 
    Smith. Eastern Hellbenders, an endangered salamander species live 
    downstream of the proposed discharge site; I find it difficult to 
    believe that this pollution would not negatively affect these 
    salamanders. So for purposes of maintaining the cleanliness of 
    Captina Creek and preserving the habitat of the Eastern Hellbender, 
    I’m asking that this permit request be denied.

    The third permit request is for OVCC to expand the waste facility 
     from which the above mentioned pollution would come from. Tests show 
    that the acidity of the creek is increased by five times when 
    comparing samples collected above the existing facility to those 
    collected below it. Ohio Valley Coal Company is already having a 
    negative effect on this creek and I feel that it would absolutely not 
    be in the best interest of the public to allow them to degrade this 
    body of water further.

    Thank you for your consideration.


    Randy Boehm
    7957 Summerside Dr.
    Worthington, OH 43085

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    Dear Kevin,

    This is in regard to the meeting held at the JVC in St. Clairsville last week.

    While I have many concerns regarding filling up a stream with coal crud, and destroying this natural area, the thing
    that sticks in my mind most is in regard to the fact that OVC did indeed proceed with activities that are only
    permitted once a permit is granted, and there is no permit at this point.  Therefore OVC should be penalized for this
    blatant act of disrespect for the EPA and what it stands for. 

    I have heard that the logic is to not fine them or "punish" OVC because the permit will probably be granted and the
    point would be moot; therefore the EPA does not want to incur the expense.  If this in inaccurate, please correct me
    and ignore what I write next!!

    What is the point of having rules and regulations if the coal company is allowed to blatantly break the rules??  If the
    EPA does not fine OVC this sets a precedent for OVC and other coal companies, or other polluting organizations,
    which says they can break the rules and not follow instructions whenever they feel like it.  Further, even though they
    have filed for a permit, it appears that they have many questions to answer before any permit will be granted, based
    on what I have read and heard.

    If you are caught driving without a license, do you think you will not be fined, minimally, because you were going to
    take the license test, and probably would have passed???????  I think not!!  Not only would you have been fined,
    you probably would not get your license when you expected to do so, perhaps having to wait 6 months to a year
    before you would be eligible to apply.  Do you disagree???

    The logic that it will cost the EPA money to fine OVC sounds like hooey to me!!  The fine should be significant and it
    most certainly should be high enough to cover the costs of implementation!!

    Time to close: it is 4:14 and I have to get this sent today, per my understanding!!

    Please, the EPA has to do the right thing if it wants to have any credibility at all!!

    Barbara Rogers
    Resident of Belmont County

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    14 February, 2000
    Kevin Johnson
    Ohio EPA
    Division of Surface Water
    PO BOX 1049
    Columbus, OH   43216-1049

    Re:  Dysart Woods permit

    Dear Mr. Johnson:

     On behalf of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), a grassroots
    environmental organization with 800+ members in Ohio, West Virginia, and
    Kentucky, please accept the follow comments for the public record:

     OVEC is opposed to all three permits for which Ohio Valley Coal Company
    (OVCC) has applied to expand waste treatment facilities on Perkins Run.
    Mine waste, which is more than simply dirt, contains sulfur that converts to
    sulfuric acid when in contact with water, killing sensitive aquatic life
    forms in the food web.

     We understand that OVCC has already illegally bulldozed a stream and now
    wants a permit to entirely destroy it.  Federal Judge Charles H. Haden of
    West Virginia recently ruled that it is illegal for mining activity to to
    destroy perennial and intermittent streams (because it violates the 1977
    Clean Water Act).  Why hasn’t Ohio EPA issued a violation of this illegal
    stream destruction?  Ohio EPA should not issue any permits to OVCC, a
    company which has already flagrantly violated environmental laws.  As
    regulators and caretakers of the environment, it is your mandate to enforce
    the law.

     OVEC also opposes the issuance of a permit that allows the discharge of
    pollution into Captina Creek, home to a population of Ohio’s largest
    salamander, the Eastern Hellbender.  The federal Endangered Species Act is
    clear that a “taking” of an endangered species includes destruction of its
    habitat.  OVEC believes that issuing this permit would be a violation of the

     OVEC also opposes issuance of a permit for OVCC to construct of a waste
    facility which would discharge 72,000 gallons of polluted discharge each day
    into Captina Creek.  We understand that Captina Creek received top marks as
    one of Ohio’s cleanest water bodies with exceptional warm water habitat.
    Each day, as we ready story after story about toxic spills into our nation’s
    (and planet’s) freshwater systems, we become more and more aware of the need
    to protect our sources of clean water—essential to all life.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these permits.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Janet Fout, Project coordinator
    Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

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    Mr. Johnson:

    Coal mining has been scarring and polluting Ohio for too many years. 
    Please do not support this dying industry at the expense of  the natural
    treasures we have at Dysart Woods and Captina Creek.

    William Gresham
    Dublin, OH

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    It is more or less a truism among biologists, ecologists, etc. that in any 
    terrestrial ecosystem that part of the ecosystem above ground is pretty much 
    dependent upon that which is below ground.  Even an organization like the 
    Ohoio EPA can make that connection.  Perhaps, regarding a place as rare and 
    precious as Dysart Woods, I should think you might be inclined to reinforce 
    this basic ecological notion as it pertains to the OVCC's revolting plan to 
    gut the substrata from beneath this national treasure. In other words why 
    doesn't the Ohio EPA do its JOB and PROTECT something for a change besides 
    the bank balances of business and industry in Ohio!  For God's sake what's 
    wrong with you people?  If you won't PROTECT Dysart Woods, what WILL you 
    protect? Ohio EPA's credibility is almost completely shot.  So why  not 
    stand up for a change?  Surprise us!    Get the OVCC the hell away from 
    Dysart Woods! 

    D. Treppel, Columbus,Ohio

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    Kevin, I oppose coal mining activity under the dysart woods and the
    attendant disruption to neighboring ecosystems that mining causes.  The
    economic boast to this area brought by mining will be only temporary,
    but will delay the development of jobs that will have a long-term impact
    on this area.

    Jan Tague

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    Good morning, Johnson:

    Please do not allow the Ohio Valley Coal Company, or any other business of
    any nature, to mine under Dysart Woods, or mess with that beautiful area of
    Ohio in any fashion.

    We have so precious few areas in the Buckeye State that have remained
    pristine, and they all seem to be under the gun from developers, mining
    companies, logging companies, et al. 

    My granddaughters and I want to be able to visit Dysart Woods and the
    surrounding area until I die, by which time the kiddies will have their own
    grandkids and can show them what a wondrous thing is an old-growth forest.

    Please don't make us journey to the American Northwest to see old-growth
    forests: let's preserve the only one that's left here in Buckeyeland!


    Roger Digel-Barrett

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    The assault by OVCC on valleys in preparation for the undermining of Dysart
    woods is a reckless murder spree of lifeforms.  Please have conscience to
    protect what is irreplaceable-the support system for Dysart Woods and the
    surrounding ecology essential for the woods and lifeforms dependent upon the
    woods and the intact valleys.  Dysart Woods is a home for treasures without
    our language.  The Ohio EPA has been indulged by the trust of the public to
    PROTECT that life for the completeness of our own lives.

    Colleen Weaver

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    Ohio EPA
    Permits Processing Unit
    Division of Surface Water
    Comments by Chad Kister,
    Coordinator, Dysart Defenders

     I will focus these comments on the four criteria for the permit.  These
    three permits clearly do not:
         1.Ensure the protection of aquatic life and public health
          2. Comply with all industry standards
          3. Employ the best available technology
       Or   4. Maintain water quality standards.

     Waters in Ohio have withstood massive damage from past coal mining
    abuses in Southeat Ohio.  Captina Creek is a rare clean stream on a
    degraded landscape.  Captina Creek makes up the bulk of the 39.2 miles
    of exceptional warmwater habitat in the region of a total of 274.6 miles
    of stream according to the 1996 Ohio Water Resource Inventory (305b
    report).  Clearly this rare exceptional water quality needs to be

    I am opposed to all three pending permits to fill Perkins Run and its
    West and North tributaries with coal waste in Belmont County and to
    release 72,000 gallons of polluted water per day into
    Captina Creek.  It is the Company's intention to get this waste out of
    its mines below Dysart, if they should win the Lands Unsuitable Petition
    Appeal court cases.

    The State EPA held a second public hearing about these permits Feb. 8.
    The coal company again showed their barbarous, rude, obnoxious,
    uncivilized, interruptive behavior in violation of Ohio EPA public
    hearing protocol.

    The proposed valley fill is just 1,000 feet upstream of Captina Creek.

     Why has OVCC not been punished for their illegal destruction of the
    valley in question, including the stream that flowed there, before the public hearing
    regarding the permits for such action had even taken place?  This action
    has been acknowledged as illegal by the State EPA, yet they continue to
    drag their feet when it comes to doing something about it. (pictures of
    destruction are available on web at

    The existence of an endangered species, the Eastern Hellbender, Ohio's
    largest salamander, downstream from OVCC's proposed valley fill should
    not only halt the current proposal but force the company to clean up the
    existing pollution they are causing to the stream.  An EPA report of the
    affects of the existing pollution from Perkins run showed that acidity
    in Captina Creek increased by 5 and a half times from the pollution
    discharge from Perkins Run.  This pollution cannot continue.  It is
    degrading Captina Creek and threatening our endangered salamander, the
    Eastern Hellbender.

     The permit would allow the release of 72,000 gallons of polluted water
    every day into Captina Creek, one of Ohio's cleanest water bodies.
    Captina Creek has the highest ibi water quality ranking in Ohio,
    according to Mike Smith, Ohio EPA permit specialist for the three
    permits OVCC needs for this valley fill.

    Captina Creek has already shown an alarming decline from 37 species to
    30 species from 1983 to 1996 according to OEPA documents.  We need to
    return the creek to 37 species through increase protection, not more

     Ohio EPA officials found numerous errors with Ohio Valley Coal
    Company's "scientists" and found that all of these errors helped to underscore the
    quality of the stream.  The EPA official, Marc Smith of the Division of Surface Water, said, "Ohio
    Valley Coal Company's activities appear to be responsible for this turbidity" found at the
    confluence of the coal companies existing coal waste facility.  The company wants to greatly
    expand the facility.  The EPA official suggest ground-truthing the coal company's data, but before
    they could complete that, OVCC bulldozed the site illegally.  What were they trying to
    hide?  What kind of a precedence would this be to allow the illegal bulldozing of a site to
    prevent EPA study, then to give the permits to the company to go ahead?  Is this what will happen
    to all endangered species found on land that developers want to develop?

     An Army Corps of Engineers letter April 29, 1998 called the West
    Tributary of Perkins Run an "undisturbed intermittent stream."  Yet how
    do we now know if it had endangered species?  It would set an extremely
    dangerous precedent to grant these permits to OVCC.  It would encourage
    illegal destruction of endangered species and their habitat to avoid
    environmental laws.  Ohio EPA is notoriously lax in their standards and
    enforcement of water quality laws, as can be seen by the US EPA's recent
    decision to oversee several OEPA cases.

     The OEPA must not permit this destruction of our rare exceptional
    waters and endangered species.

     I will email several photos to include in this comment as well as an
    appendixes to follow.

    Chad Kister
    (740) 594-7287
    P.O. Box 31; Athens, OH 45701

    Appendix 1

    Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
                           Interoffice Communication

     March 11,1999

      To: Duane Davis, 401 Coordinator

      From: Marc Smith, DWS, MAS-EAU

     Subject: Comments on the Perkins Run Coarse Coal Waste Disposal
    Facility 401 Application

     As you probably have suspected we have no biological sampling data from
    the small streams that would be affected by the alternatives proposed
    for this project. The only sampling data that we have available are the
    QHEI forms that were completed by Jennifer Kleski of Bair, Goodie and
    Associates. My understanding is that she is a hydrogeologist by
    training. I'm not sure if she has taken one of Ed Rankin's QHEI training
    courses. I wouid appreciate it if you would check that out with your
    folks over there.

        The reason that I'm raising the issue is that there were obvious
    problems with how the sheets were filled out. An example would be not
    checking boulders as a cover type when in the comments section of that
    metric was the statement that majority of cover boulders/cobbles.
    Another example would be shallows in slow water was checked but slow
    current velocity was not checked. The were several more comparable
    discrepancies scattered through the sheets. All of these discrepancies
    have the effect of underscoring the quality and therefore the potential
    of the streams to support aquatic life. I would strongly suggest a site
    visit to ground truth the habitat quality of these streams, especially
    in view of the proposal to totally eliminate them as streams.

          Along the same lines since what is being proposed is a virtual
    elimination of a stream I do not see how we could approve the filling of
    this system without knowing what the existing quality and the existing
    use are. I would therefore recommend that either they hire a consultant
    to conduct that sampling this coming field season or you contact SEDO
    and determine whether or not they can conduct this sampling. Once we
    have a better understanding of the quality of this resource we can make
    an informed and better decision on how to proceed. Along the same lines
    statements are made in the report that are obviously inserted to
    minimize the quality of the stream.

        One example is the "Note turbidity of the water. It has a milky
    apppearance. However this milky appearance is also evident in photo 2&3
    at the discharge of the Number 2 Dam, a slurry
    impoundment. The Ohio Valley Coal Company's activities appear to be
    responsible for this turbidity.  Similarly comments are made about
    siltation and embeddedness particularly relating this to the stream
    flowing through spoil fill. Again these are as a result of activities by
    the applicant. Pre-application impact caused by an applicant should not
    be used to justify futher impact.

     Another issue that needs to be resolved by folks higher up in the
    hierarchy is: when is it permissible to eliminate a water of the state?
    That appears to be what we are being asked to do. We need to know what
    we are legally permitted to do. I would suggest getting Ric Queen
    involved in the review of this project since it raises some issues
    outside the ordinary.

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    As an Athens resident, the plans to mine in Dysart Woods has me worried not 
    only for the ecosystem it will destroy but also the environment it threatens 
    to pollute.  I am concerned for the health of me and my Ohio neighbors! 
    Also with so few old growth forests remaining, it is crucial protection is 

    This land should not be raped at the expense of the ecosystem and public 

    Kat Cline

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