The Hofmann Forest to Sargasso Sea Connection — The American Eel

We know that what happens to Hofmann Forest matters locally and regionally, but what about internationally?  There is a connection and it is the American Eel (Anguilla rostrata).  What we know about eels is evolving still.  Once thought to be the only catadromous fish in the US, it is now apparent that eel life is more complicated than that.  That is a whole story itself and one of the reasons I have included the link below to the USFWS.

The link to Hofmann Forest is that there are American Eels in all three basins draining from Hofmann.  I have caught them myself in the White Oak and Trent Rivers.  Their life cycle is believed to begin with spawning in the Sargasso Sea.  Somehow, as they mature through several stages, they make their way to estuarine and fresh waters.  The adults live in estuarine and fresh waters and some may live primarily in one or the other, while others move between the two.  The complete nature and reasons for this behavior are not known, but that it occurs makes facultative catadromy the appropriate  description of American Eel behavior.

Eels make the trip from the Sargasso Sea and back only once.  As adults they undergo  still more remarkable changes for life in the open ocean.  They return to the Sargasso Sea, breed, and are thought to die.

Eels are an important part of the marine, estuarine, and inland food webs.  They are sensitive to low dissolved oxygen levels and contaminants, including those generated by non point source pollution from activities such as agriculture.  So what happens in the Hofmann Forest basins has a ripple effect reaching the two million square mile Sargasso Sea and all linked waters. The extent of linked waters is great. The American Eel is thought to be one single breeding population, not distinct by location. Eels found in Greenland are not genetically distinct from those found in Brazil.

What happens in Hofmann Forest doesn’t stay in Hofmann Forest.  The land use changes presented in the Hofmann, LLC, Prospectus will have a negative impact locally, regionally, and internationally, if nothing but the Atlantic Eel is considered.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region Newsroom.


Anadromous – Lives in salt water, travels to fresh water for breeding.

Catadromous – Lives in fresh water and and travels to saltwater for breeding.

Diadromous – Broader term including both anadromous and catadromous.

Facultative Catadromy – Catadromous sometimes, but not always, apparently optional.


North Carolina Constitutuion, ARTICLE XIV, Sec. 5. Conservation of natural resources

Sec. 5. Conservation of natural resources.

It shall be the policy of this State to conserve and protect its lands and waters for the benefit of all its citizenry, and to this end it shall be a proper function of the State of North Carolina and its political subdivisions to acquire and preserve park, recreational, and scenic areas, to control and limit the pollution of our air and water, to control excessive noise, and in every other appropriate way to preserve as a part of the common heritage of this State its forests, wetlands, estuaries, beaches, historical sites, openlands, and places of beauty.

To accomplish the aforementioned public purposes, the State and its counties, cities and towns, and other units of local government may acquire by purchase or gift properties or interests in properties which shall, upon their special dedication to and acceptance by a law enacted by a vote of three-fifths of the members of each house of the General Assembly for those public purposes, constitute part of the ‘State Nature and Historic Preserve,’ and which shall not be used for other purposes except as authorized by law enacted by a vote of three-fifths of the members of each house of the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall prescribe by general law the conditions and procedures under which such properties or interests therein shall be dedicated for the aforementioned public purposes. (1971, c. 630, s. 1; S.L. 1999-268, ss 3-5; S.L. 2001‑217, s. 3; S.L. 2002-3 Extra Session.)


Hofmann Forest Sale – What can you do to prevent this tragedy?

Every citizen of North Carolina should be concerned about the possible sale Hofmann Forest.  Hofmann Forest covers about 80,000 acres.  That’s about 125 square miles.  It drains to the Neuse, White Oak, and New Rivers (defined as part of the White Oak) and their associated estuarine systems.  Water quality from Topsail Island to Ocracoke could be impacted.  Large scale land-use changes, as contemplated in the Hofmann, LLC, Prospectus, will have far-reaching impacts to these three important and already impaired watersheds.

While we await a ruling on the appeal of our case, there are some things concerned citizens can do to help head off this tragedy or at least ensure it gets the scrutiny that it deserves:

  1. Contact Randy Woodson, NCSU Chancellor, and ask him to require an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the UNC System Environmental Policy for NC Environmental Protection Act, commonly known as SEPA. Randy Woodson is one of two people who can require that an EA be performed outside the legal channels we are pursuing.
  2. Contact Thomas Ross, UNC System President, and ask him to require an EA under the UNC System Environmental Policy for SEPA. Thomas Ross is the only other person, and the highest ranking person, who can require that an EA be performed outside the legal channels we are pursuing.
  3. Contact NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, and ask him how he and former Attorney General Rufus Edmisten have drawn different conclusions about whether Hofmann is public or private.  In 1980, then Attorney General Rufus Edmisten wrote Jones County a letter with a determination that Hofmann is public. Roy Cooper is now utilizing state resources (an expenditure of state funds, one of the triggers for SEPA) to defend this allegedly “private” sale.  Ask Roy Cooper why he has chosen to represent the University, part of his responsibilities, over upholding the NC State Constitution and the NC Environmental Policy Act, SEPA ) also part of his responsibility as the chief law enforcement officer of the State.  Which is more important, protecting the University’s  sale of public land as supposedly private, or upholding the Constitution and enforcing the laws and rules of this State? Does he have his priorities wrong?
  4. If you are among NCSU Alumi or are a Donor, write Alumni and Donor Records, Campus Box 7474, Raleigh, NC 27695-7474, and tell them you think the sale of Hofmann Forest violates a trust with donors and you are withholding any donation because the University does not respect its donors wishes. Julius Hofmann would appreciate it!

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them to try to stop the sale outright, too! The sale conflicts with the intent of the  NC Constitution and SEPA, and is trading short-term gain for loss of an irreplaceable resource.

Please contact me via the “Contact Us” menu item above if you would like more information or to discuss what you can do to help.  Thanks!

John Eddy




Help stop the sale of Hofmann Forest — Janet Smith

See Janet’s letter to the editor in the JDNews.

Thank you Janet!  As one of the plaintiffs in this case, now under appeal, I would also encourage anyone who opposes this sale to contact the Chancellor of NCSU, Randy Woodson, and the President of the UNC System, Thomas Ross, and encourage them to practice what is taught at NCSU and throughout the UNC system. Natural resources conservation, sustainability, and ethics are current education themes. Under the UNC system environmental policy, either of these individuals could require that an environmental assessment be performed.  Also, isn’t it ironic that the current Attorney General, Roy Cooper, is using state resources to defend the sale while The Board of Trustees of the NCSU Endowment Fund is arguing they can make the sale without an environmental assessment because Hofmann is not public property?  Never mind that a former Attorney General, Rufus Edmisten, wrote a letter to Jones County saying Hofmann was state-owned and therefore not subject to property tax.  NCSU has not paid property tax in Jones or Onslow Counties for over 70 years claiming the public property exemption.  It seems reasonable that either Hofmann is public and they need to play by their own rules or Hofmann is private and they owe a bunch of back taxes.  Many public documents on this sale are available on our website. Thanks!


WCTI 12 — Onslow County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to preserve the Hofmann Forest.