Local News

Motion filed to block final sale of Hofmann Forest

Posted October 18, 2014 10:55 a.m. EDT

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

— A group opposed to the planned sale of North Carolina State University's Hofmann Forest requested an injuction on Friday to block the sale until the matter can go before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

N.C. State plans to sell most of the 79,000-acre research forest to Resource Management Service of Alabama, which will buy about 56,000 acres near Jacksonville under an agreement approved by trustees of the NC State Natural Resources Foundation Inc.

The original buyer, Hofmann Forest LLC, plans to buy the remaining 23,000 acres.

N.C. State also agreed to cut the original price of $150 million by $19 million.

The Department of Defense has expressed interest in acquiring easements on all or part of the approximately 70,000 acres northwest of U.S. Highway 17 for training. Both buyers have agreed to negotiate easements for airspace, blackout rights and other military activities.

The forest was bought in the 1930s for research and to provide income for the school's forestry program.

The school has said it wanted to sell the land because it was not generating enough revenue and was not being used very much anymore for research.

Opponents say the school has downplayed the land's research value, as well as its environmental role.

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.

The plaintiffs also maintain that members of the Board of Trustees of the N.C. State Endowment Fund 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.