State News

NC State selling most of Hofmann Forest to timber company

Posted September 10, 2014 12:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 10, 2014 12:58 p.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.

— North Carolina State University plans to sell most of the Hoffman Forest to a company that specializes in sustainable timber management.

Resource Management Service of Alabama 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.

“This agreement generates critical resources that will enhance educational and research opportunities for the College of Natural Resources while providing for sustainability of the forest and continuing student and faculty access to the property," N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.

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