ex mero motu

Dear Friends of Hofmann Forest,

One of the “downsides” of the unexpected collapse of the Hofmann Forest sale agreement was the risk that the NC Supreme Court would then consider our legal case to be moot. We downplayed that possibility, especially after both parties let the Court know that we didn’t think the case was over. As you may recall, we filed the lawsuit before any buyers were publicly revealed – our legal arguments were aimed at the decision to sell the forest without protections, not the identity of the buyers.

But on Friday, the NC Supreme Court issued a one sentence decision declaring the Cubbage et al. lawsuit to be moot, ex mero motu (of their own accord).
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/22/4423676_nc-supreme-court-dismisses-lawsuit.html?rh=1

What does this mean? The bad news is the lawsuit is over for the moment, the good news is we didn’t lose, and if NCSU leaders foolishly stumble ahead into another sale agreement that doesn’t protect the forest, we can (and will) sue them again, this time with most of our legal arguments already written.

We hope it doesn’t come to that, we hope the University seizes this rare second chance to make a better decision with respect to Hofmann Forest. Now that the case is out of the Court’s hands, it is back to being entirely up to us to convince NC State University to do the right thing.

So can I ask that if you haven’t already, you please take a few moments this week (or next if you’re traveling), and send the Chancellor and Board of Trustees those “Holladay” cards (Chancellor Woodson works in Holladay Hall!)? Just urge them to have the patience and wisdom to look for a win-win solution that protects Hofmann as a 79,000-acre public forest, while providing a decent financial return for the university. Good examples: selling a conservation easement on the land and keeping the forest for NCSU use (but with generous provisions in the easement for public access), or selling the land outright to the US Forest Service for inclusion as part of Croatan National Forest. There are other good options as well – we just don’t want them to sell the land to private commercial buyers with no actual protections (which is what they did last time).

Addresses below for the cards.

Thanks for everything you have done so far on behalf of North Carolina’s largest tract of state-owned forest! Stick with us, if we all push together we can save this forest once and for all….

Happy Holladays – and let’s finish this job in 2015!

Ron Sutherland, Ph.D.
NCSU Biology ’99
Conservation Scientist
Wildlands Network
ron@wildlandsnetwork.org

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