Meeting necessary to save Dysart Woods


While the legal struggle to save Dysart Woods might be immensely complex, the situation is simple: Those who value our last .004 percent of remaining ancient forest in Ohio need to speak up fast, or it will be gone. Please try to attend an upcoming public hearing at 2 p.m. May 15 in Belmont County.

Ohio Valley Coal Company has pending permits to mine all of Dysart Woods and its watershed with longwall and room-and-pillar mining. Dysart Defenders’ expert hydrologist and forest ecologist both say this would be disastrous for the old-growth forest and would take away its uniqueness — being a remnant original forest that can be studied as a benchmark for what used to cover 95 percent of Ohio.

Ecologically, this is an exceptionally important issue. The most important key to the survival of a critical mass of biodiversity is to save all its parts, particularly all of its ecosystems. In a 1996 U.S. Department of Interior Study, Reid Noss found the Ohio Division of Natural Resources has to some degree protected Pleistocene relics such as fens and bogs but has failed to protect ancient forests that once made up 95 percent of what was the heart of the largest forest in the world.

Dysart Woods, narrowly spared from logging in 1960, now faces brutal and unnecessary coal mining for high-sulfur, polluting coal of which we have no shortage. With 99.996 percent of our original forest having been lost in Ohio, and the eastern deciduous old-growth forest being among the rarest ecosystem on Earth, it is the entirely undisturbed nature of Dysart Woods of which we have the most severe shortage.

But the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources has approved mining directly underneath Dysart Woods with a permit that Dysart Defenders has appealed. Yet we need help to sustain the appeal.

Worse, the OVCC has pending permits to mine all of Dysart Woods, including the old-growth forest areas. The ODMR has scheduled a public hearing with short notice in the middle of a weekday. It is at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15 in the Red Room of the Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Call (740) 594-7287 for carpool information.

How can we morally look our children in the eyes if we let Dysart Woods fall in this, the year 2002? Please skip work or school and be there May 15 for the fate of our ancient forest.

 — Chad Kister