Education

NCSU agrees to sell research forest for $150M

Posted October 29, 2013
Updated October 30, 2013

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— A North Carolina State University endowment announced Tuesday that it has agreed to sell Hofmann Forest for $150 million.

The 79,000-acre forest in Jones and Onslow counties has been owned and managed for the benefit of N.C. State’s College of Natural Resources for nearly 80 years. Officials said it is the largest university-owned teaching and research forest in the world.

“The income generated annually by the investment of the sale proceeds will provide tremendous educational and research opportunities for the College of Natural Resources and its students,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.

Jerry Walker, a third-generation agri-businessman who runs the family’s multi-state agriculture business based in Illinois, bought the forest and said he plans to maintain its primary use for timber and agricultural purposes. He also agreed to continue providing access to N.C. State students and faculty to conduct research.

“Hofmann Forest is a wonderful property with a long and storied connection to the communities of eastern North Carolina, and we are committed to preserving that legacy going forward,” Walker said in a statement.

University officials said they expect the proceeds of the sale to generate $6 million a year in revenue for the College of Natural Resources, which they said is more than triple the current annual yield from owning the property.

“As an asset, the forest’s full potential was not being realized,” Woodson said. “We have an obligation to our stakeholders – our students, faculty, staff and alumni – to ensure our colleges are positioned to provide a robust academic environment that attracts world-class faculty and the best and brightest students.”

A group of N.C. State professors, foresters and environmentalists has sued the university to block the sale, calling it "one of the most significant public conservation areas in North Carolina."

The lawsuit alleges that the sale would violate the state constitution's mandate of conserving public lands for public benefit. They also maintain that the foundation's board failed to follow state environmental regulations requiring input from public agencies or citizens on the proposal or to consider any alternatives to selling the forest.

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  • NCSU Wolf Oct 30, 2013

    Think of the hundreds and possibly thousands of scholarships that will be funded, the huge boost to the University's endowment, the great return on investment, the new tax revenues to Onslow county (since the land was previously untaxed), and the University still gets to use it for research. And they got almost $1,900 per acre for useless swamp land? I call that a win/win/win/win/win.

  • letsimaginethis Oct 30, 2013

    This is a rip-off. They can sell less than 5,000 of the 79,000 acres and profit way more than what they paid. This needs to be stopped.

  • sunneyone2 Oct 30, 2013

    "Jerry Walker, a third-generation agri-businessman who runs the family’s multi-state agriculture business based in Illinois, bought the forest and said he plans to maintain its primary use for timber and agricultural purposes. He also agreed to continue providing access to N.C. State students and faculty to conduct research."
    Right. They'll develop it.

  • happy2.0 Oct 30, 2013

    Wow...a whopping $1898 per acre. Somebody got a "fire" sale price.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 30, 2013

    "I am not in favor of the sale but it *is* returned to the taxpayers in the form of an endowment educating students who in turn do things to improve and maintain this world."

    Actually it should be returned to the taxpayers. All taxpayer money should stop going to these schools. The schools will still be full and the students will actually pay less money. Under the current system. No one ever finishes paying for school. Even those that did not go to college.

    We will still have plenty of people coming out to continue destroying the country, in spite of the ones that actually do create positive actions and are a benefit to society.

  • Defiant Oct 30, 2013

    money talks.

  • m24s Oct 30, 2013

    itlsss - All NCSU is after is pool of CASH to build a fancy building on Centinial Campus and give all the Forestry professors a nice raise. This thing stinks more than the Mary Easley affair. This sale is not a reflection of the professors at NCState, nor the alumni of this school. In fact many protested. This is the doing of an arrogant Dean pretending to care about the welfare of our natural resources. She is in it for the money - she has NO history in forestry and shouldnt hold the position she does over such a great program. Try not to demean the good professors by lumping them in with this woman.

  • drjones74 Oct 30, 2013

    "I am all for the sale of the land. But the money should be returned to the taxpayers of North Carolina."- Pirate01

    I am not in favor of the sale but it *is* returned to the taxpayers in the form of an endowment educating students who in turn do things to improve and maintain this world.

  • veyor Oct 30, 2013

    As a young man I worked in Hoffman Forest doing inventory of tree growth in certain plots. We had to take two compasses with us in case we lost one or had one to be broken. It's a big woods.

  • sidecutter Oct 30, 2013

    The state needs to keep it and open up to the public at large for hunting and other outdoor activites.

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