Dysart Woods Park
Dysart Woods, a 50-acre tract of old-growth oak forest, is the largest known remnant of the original forest of southeastern Ohio. Some of the spectacular oaks that you will see are 400 years old, stand over 140 feet high, and have a diameter of four feet. The woods are located in unglaciated southeastern Ohio. This area is characteristically hilly with local relief exceeding 200 feet. The sedminentary bedrock in the region is composed mostly of sandstone and shale, with coal seams occuring variably from near the surface to hundreds of feet underground. The rainfall and temperature conditions are well suited for deciduous forests.
Dysart Woods exists today as an old-growth forest because several generations of the Dysart family kept it in its natural state. The splendor of the forest, formely enjoyed by only a few, now has become available to many. Ohio University, by agreement with the Nature Conservancy, has undertaken the responsibility of preserving this outstanding remnant of the magnificent forests the once covered much of Ohio and eastern United States. The recognition of Dysart Woods as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior underscores the importance of preserving it. Visitors are welcome in the woods and the adjacent areas which are used for continuing educational research programs.
Ohio University has preserved the woods by keeping it in its natural state. That is, no cutting of trees is permitted and fallen logs remain to decompose and thus continue the never-ending cycling of minerals through successive generations of plants. The Department of Environmental and Plant Biology conducts studies of the woods and surrounding fields to learn more about the dynamics of a mature oak ecosystem. Research is to be done in such a way as to leave intact the ecology of the forest. Through classes, guided tours, and published research, the University shares its knowledge of the forest to enable students and visitors to understand better the world in which we live.