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NCSU deal to sell Hofmann Forest falls through

Posted December 5, 2014

The 79,000-acre Hofmann Forest in Jones and Onslow counties is the largest university-owned teaching and research forest in the world.

— The Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University said Friday that a deal to sell the 79,000-acre Hofmann Forest near the coast is off after the two firms planning to buy the land couldn't finalize the financial contingencies of the contract.

The research forest will continue to be owned by the endowment fund for the benefit of the university's College of Natural Resources, officials said, adding that the endowment board and the Natural Resources Foundation hope to find another buyer.

“The sole mission of the N.C. State Natural Resources Foundation is to benefit the College of Natural Resources, its students and its faculty, and the sale of Hofmann Forest has always been about that purpose," Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement. "We will always strive to make strategic choices that provide the best educational opportunities for students.”

N.C. State had planned to sell 56,000 acres of Hofmann Forest to Resource Management Service of Alabama, a timber management firm, and the remaining 23,000 acres to Hofmann Forest LLC, an Illinois-based agribusiness firm that planned to develop part of the property.

The two firms would have paid a total of $131 million for the land.

The land in Hofmann Forest was bought in the 1930s for research and to provide income for N.C. State's forestry program, but university officials have said that the land isn't generating enough revenue and isn't being used very much anymore for research.

A group of N.C. State professors, foresters and environmentalists filed suit in September 2013, alleging that the sale would violate the state constitution's mandate of conserving public lands for public benefit. They argue that the school has downplayed the land's research value, as well as its environmental role, and that the endowment board didn't obtain public input on the proposed sale, as required under state environmental regulations.

"University leaders now have a window of opportunity to step back to the drawing board and do the right thing," Ron Sutherland, one of the leading opponents to the sale, said in a statement. "They can use an open process that works with the professors, students and locals who oppose a sale without proper protections on the forest’s use.”

If N.C. State is determined not to keep Hofmann Forest, Sutherland suggested the university either auction off an easement that would allow logging in the forest but prevent its development or selling the land to the U.S. Forest Service to link up with the nearby Croatan National Forest.


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  • Bob Bruck Dec 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Karma! Save the Hofmann!

  • JoCo50 at MXR Dec 5, 2014

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    A few people at NCSU think they don't need it anymore. I think that once it's sold, it never comes back. 80,000 acres is a lot of land. The university is not like a human. It will go on for a long time. There's no telling what value that land might have to the university in the years to come.

  • Eq Videri Dec 5, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    But NCSU doesn't want it anymore. What do you propose should be done with it?

  • JoCo50 at MXR Dec 5, 2014

    I'm glad the deal fell through. It don't sound like it was a good deal for the taxpayers.

    I wouldn't want it to fall into federal government hands either.

  • Gatsby Dec 5, 2014

    Win for the taxpayer

  • davidhartman Dec 5, 2014


  • Len White Dec 5, 2014
    user avatar

    I was not very pleased when NCSU sold off the ‘Swine Educational Unit’ in west Raleigh a while back. There is a housing complex there now…. (I never really understood exactly what they were teaching those pigs, but that’s another topic….)

    I just hate to see government agencies sell off long-term assets for short-term gains….


  • gob_gobbler Dec 5, 2014


  • NotAgain Dec 5, 2014

    I hope NCSU changes their minds on selling it.

  • Eq Videri Dec 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Sens. Burr, Hagan, or Tillis should work out a federal purchase to make it a national forest.