Dysart Woods Historic Event
The Historical Trekkers group will tour Dysart Woods this Saturday, May 3 with muskets and 18th century attire. They say that Dysart Woods is one of the extremely rare places where they can see a historic tract of the old growth forest that once covered 95 percent of Ohio.
by Chad Kister
April 30, 2003
They will arrive at the ancient forest between 10-10:30 a.m. this Saturday. Media are welcome to record the event. “With the current permit to mine directly under the ancient forest, this may be the last opportunity of its kind to tour a significant historic forest in Ohio, unless the permit can be stopped in the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources or in court,” said Dysart Defenders Coordinator Chad Kister.
“With only .004 percent of old growth left, this is an extremely important historic resource,” said Kister. “For the Ohio Valley Coal Company to request to mine under every acre of Dysart Woods is wrong and it needs to be challenged and stopped.”
The following is a statement from Thom "Swanny" Swan, Coordinator of Historical Trekkers:
Historical trekkers are people who try to understand the day-to-day lifestyles of early North American frontiersmen and their families by reenacting their daily routine in wilderness setting, using authentic reproductions of the clothing, equipment and supplies used by our ancestors. One of the most important aspects of life on the early frontier was the relationship of the individual to the environment in which he or she lived and worked.
In many regions of the United States, including Ohio, it is very difficult to reenact historical environmental interactions simply because the environment of the eighteenth and nineteenth century no longer exists. What was then wild country has since been extensively modified to support agriculture, timber, industry and intensive human settlement. Even lands that have been "reclaimed" require 200 or more years to revert to an "old-growth" stage of forest development.
It's estimated that during the eighteenth century, about 95% of Ohio was covered by deciduous forest. Today it's estimated that only .004 percent of that ancient forest remains in it's untouched, virgin state, and of that the 455 acre parcel known as Dysart Woods is the last significant unglaciated virgin forest left in Ohio.
Historical experiences throughout the United States and the world have shown that in spite of the best intentions and practices, unexpected consequences of human activity often alters the environment. In spite of improvements in mining technology over the past few decades, it is impossible to guarantee that mining beneath Dysart Woods will have absolutely no impact on this stand of virgin timber.
I'm pleased that members of our Ohio and West Virginia Chapters will have an opportunity, albeit brief and limited, to experience life as it may have been for early frontiersmen in a nearly-pristine environment and I hope that the people of Ohio will have the foresight and boldness of vision to ensure that they will not be the last to interact with the environment in the same manner as our Native and Euro-American ancestors.
The following is a statement by Dave McGee, the Ohio/Indiana representative for the Coalition of Historical Trekkers:
We, the Coalition of Historical Trekker, are dedicated to the preservation and study of the pre-1840 frontier people in America by means of literary research and experimental archeology. We are historical trekkers, which is to say we are experimental archaeologist, involved in one or more eras of the historical time frame from 1600 to the year 1840. As is the purpose of an archaeologist, to establish facts about a historical people or time period, or place. We establish facts pertaining to the way of life of the pre-1840 frontier people. This is accomplished by experimentation in wilderness situations, using firearms, clothing and accouterments, authentic to those used by the early frontier people here in America. We pledge to keep alive the awareness of those brave people who lived and died while carving out a place in the wilderness. We recognize that it was these brave men and women who made it possible for us, and generations to come, to live here in the land of the free-America.
Historical trekkers try to relive historic events at historic sites. We often participate at historic sites as volunteers or interpreters, to help educate visitors and celebrate our Nation's history. By doing so we keep the awareness alive for our national historic sites... Dysart Woods being only one of thousands across this great nation.
Many of most important historic sites are endangered by neglect, inadequate funding, lack of volunteers, and encroaching development. Dysart Woods is being threatened by a corporation that by it's efforts to undermine the forest demonstrates a lack of respect for the environment and our National land marks. The officers and stock-holds of the Ohio Valley Coal Company apparently believe that it is acceptable to destroy that which nature has given us, and that far-sighted people have protected and preserved in exchange for a few dollars and some freshly planted saplings.
To understand the lives of historical people we must also understand the environment in which they lived. That is why we believe that we need to support historic sites and national sites such as Dysart Woods. We believe that is not acceptable for American citizens to be robbed of our National heritage.
Many of our National treasures are threatened. Many of our national historic sites and wildlands are on the chopping blocks to accommodate modern development. Some are being sold to the highest bidder... American or not. We the people have to step forward and say "enough is enough!". Our National historic sites and wildlands allow each of us an opportunity to learn first-hand how America was made, to see and feel what was required to make America free, and to learn how we inherited the freedoms that many of us take for granted. This country was made free by citizens willing to step forward and take a chance for something they believed in strongly enough to preserve for future generations.
I am here, to support the Defenders of Dysart Woods and the University of Ohio for their commendable work in preserving these beautiful woods and the endangered species. I am here on my own accord, to say "These woods should be left alone until the great maker takes them from us in his own way, and not by the hand and greed of man."
I would like to thank the Defenders of Dysart Woods, and the University for the opportunity to come and trek these woods, and see what beauty nature has given us. I would like to thank Chad Kister, Brian McCarthy, John Burns, personally for making this trek possible. It is a pleasure to be here, and see first hand this last virgin stand of woods... may through the grace of the people, and your hard work and dedication these woods stand forever more. Thank you for the opportunity to be here. And if you feel just as strongly as I, or are interested in learning more about the Coalition of Historical Trekkers, please visit our websites at www.coht.org or for the Ohio COHT Chapter website at www.org/oh/index.html, and www.dysartwoods.org for more information.
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