Tag Archives: Fred Cubbage

Donate to NCSU? No Way!

I will never give a dime to NCSU after the attempted sale of Hofmann Forest! The sale is a betrayal of donors and people working to benefit the Unversity.  Too bad we can’t get comment from Julius Hofmann. Oh wait, we do have his intent in written form:

[Hofmann Forest was acquired] “…as a forestry laboratory, demonstration area and as a source of revenue to help carry on the forestry education work.”

“The Forestry Foundation is to hold this property for the sole interest and benefit of the Forestry Department of State College.”

— Julius Hofmann, July 17, 1933; Memorandum to President E.C. Brooks

This sale and donor/benefactor betrayal will send a chilling message to all future donors — the University does not respect donor wishes.  Stop the sale of Hofmann Forest and restore integrity to the University and the Endowment Fund!  Otherwise, look for a future decrease in donations and giving.

Write:

Annual Giving for NC State University
Alumni and Donor Records
Campus Box 7474
Raleigh, NC  27695-7474

Let them know what you think about future giving based on the sale of Hofmann Forest.  Please consider using the current direct mail campaign envelopes so they are sure to know that their fund raising targets and most likely donors don’t like the sale.

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Hofmann Forest Updates!

Much has happened!

Tuesday, Judge Shannon Joseph denied our request for an injunction to stop the sale of the Hofmann Forest.  While unfortunate, we still have a chance to be heard, if our case is not dismissed.  Judge Joseph will decide that in the coming days.

The NCSU Endowment Fund Board and NC Justice Department Lawyers had to concede Hofmann was public (or at least decided to drop their contention that Hofmann was private).  We obtained documentation from both Jones and Onslow Counties where the Justice Department had argued that Hofmann was tax exempt because it was state owned property! Thanks Rufus Edmiston! Jones_County_Sep_2013 034

Meanwhile, we have discovered a Hofmann, LLC, prospectus that is exactly the opposite of what was argued in court by the NCSU Endowment Fund Board and the Justice Department Lawyers!  0-Hofmann Forest LLC Prospectus for Potential Investors  We are trying to get this in front of Judge Joseph now.

We need your help!  Please contact the University officials, elected officials, and anyone else you can think of to voice your opinion on this sale and tactics.  We see it as having been conducted in secrecy, with deception, and not in the best interests of the state or its citizens!

 

 

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Hofmann Forest Sale – Financial Boon or Regional Bust?

Hofmann Forest, which straddles the border between Onslow and Jones Counties, is now under contract to be sold.  This sale will have significant regional impacts which have not been studied.  The North Carolina Environmental Policy Act requires a review of environmental effects of activities that involve action by a State agency, public money or private use of public land, and that may have a potential negative effect on natural resources, public health and safety, natural beauty, or historical or cultural elements of the State. These studies have not been done because the seller, the Endowment Fund of the Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University, contends it is exempt from these requirements.  They also contend that selling Hofmann is in the best interest of the University and its students.  A majority of NCSU students, faculty, and alumni oppose this sale, not just because of the negative environmental impacts, but because it will be a tragic loss for NCSU, the State, and its citizens. The Onslow County Commissioners resolved to oppose this sale.

Hofmann Forest is large (about 80,000 acres) and it is a large percentage of the New, White Oak, and Trent River watersheds.  These waterways already have challenges related to water quality, as evidenced by fish kills and closed shellfish waters.  More intense land use reduces water quality and increases stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the single largest source of water pollution. The contract for sale does not prevent significantly more intense land use on a large part of Hofmann Forest.  This could include more intense forest production, conversion to agriculture, and development, all of which will increase stormwater runoff and reduce water quality.  Because Hofmann is so large, even moderate increases in land use intensity will negatively impact all coastal waters and communities downstream, including the New , White Oak, Trent, and Neuse Rivers; the estuarine systems of all these rivers; Beaches from Topsail Island to Ocracoke Island; communities of, Jacksonville, Sneads Ferry, Camp Lejeune, New Bern, Swansboro, Oriental; and much more!   Almost all drinking water in the area, including public water systems, comes from wells.  To protect overused deeper aquifers, the state is requiring more withdrawals from near-surface aquifers.  Near-surface aquifers have more connectivity to surface waters.  If surface water quality suffers, so will groundwater quality.  Hofmann Forest is unique and valuable as a research and teaching forest and is historically and culturally significant based on the time and means by which it was acquired. Hofmann Forest is a large and important habitat itself, but it is also a connecting link in the much larger ecosystem of Croatan-Hofmann-Camp Lejeune-Holly Shelter.  When linked, these areas create an ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts.

This sale will have negative impacts which will be felt by those who work, live, and vacation in the region.  Will history judge this sale as a great example of enlightened financial management by a public institution or will it be judged as one of the most profound blunders of an institution of higher learning and a failure of state government,  political leaders, and citizens that let it happen? Please learn more about this sale and decide for yourself.   There is not much time.

Thank you,

John L. Eddy, PE
BS Civil Engineering, MS Geotechnical and Water Resources Engineering, NCSU
Landowner Jones and Onslow Counties

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Retain the Hofmann Forest

Retain the Hofmann Forest
Fred Cubbage
Professor
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
North Carolina State University

On October 29, 2013 NC State University, the College of Natural Resources, and the Natural Resources Foundation announced that they have approved the sale of the Hofmann Forest, our 79,000 acre educational forest on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, to Walker Ag Group, a farming operation based in Danville, Illinois. We are writing to support retention of the Hofmann Forest instead of completing this sale, and are opposing the sale with a lawsuit as mentioned below.

Other than the principals announcing the sale, there has been almost unanimous public opposition to the sale, including a broad spectrum of professors, students, foresters, environmentalists, local residents, and citizens. More than 2000 persons have expressed their opposition to the sale of the Hofmann Forest, through an on-line petition (~1300 persons), Facebook (~330), faculty (50) and student (100) signed petitions, and a resolution from the North Carolina Division of the Society of American Foresters (representing ~600 foresters). Furthermore every one of many newspaper opinion or editorial articles have opposed the sale, as have the Onslow Commissioners, and dozens of blog writers in the popular and university web sites.

The Natural Resources Foundation Board, which is comprised of very distinguished pulp and paper, energy, and wood products executives, has voted twice to sell the public Hofmann Forest, and NCSU and the Endowment Fund are pursuing that effort now. However, a large majority of those board members live out of state and none live near the Forest. The Board has no foresters registered In North Carolina, no professors or students, nor any local residents.

In response to the proposed sale, a coalition of professors, foresters, landowners, and wildlife conservationists have filed a lawsuit to enjoin the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University, the State agency that owns the Hofmann Forest, from selling the State Forest. We believe that selling the Hofmann in its entirety betrays our mission of teaching about natural resource management and practicing what we teach, will lead to substantial damage of the natural environment in Jones and Onslow counties, and violates state environmental and public process requirements for such a major environmental decision.

Hofmann Forest was transferred from the Forestry Foundation to the Endowment Fund of the Board of Trustees of North Carolina State University in 1977, in order to clearly place the forest under State ownership and thus avoid paying property taxes that would have otherwise been due in Jones and Onslow counties. The Hofmann is the largest single tract of property owned by the State of North Carolina, and it is the largest university-owned teaching and research forest in the world.

The Natural Resource Foundation and the Endowment Fund at NC State University did not complete any assessment of the environmental impact of different alternatives to selling State-owned Hofmann Forest, or seek any public agency or citizen input, which is required for State lands by North Carolina’s Environmental Protection Act (SEPA).

Given its immense size and its strategic location linking Croatan National Forest to additional core protected lands to the north and south, Hofmann State Forest is clearly one of the most significant public conservation areas and corridors for biological diversity in North Carolina. The Hofmann also has high quality runoff from the Forest that is the fount for three sensitive Coastal Plain rivers—the Trent, the New, and the White Oak.

These river systems drain immediately into beautiful coastal beaches and developments, supply drinking water supplies from Jacksonville to Emerald Isle to Beaufort to Newbern, but have already have suffered from water quality and development issues, including closing of shellfish areas. Perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 acres of the Forest are prime urban development land and up to 50,000 acres could have very productive organic soils for farming. Severe water quality degradation would result if urban development or conversion to row crop agriculture occur.

We believe that the enduring mission of the State Hofmann Forest has been to teach, research, and demonstrate our professional skills and principles of sustainable forestry and the land ethic, and to practice what we teach in the unique Coastal Plain environment. There are many alternatives that were promoted by the Natural Resource Foundation before their ultimate vote to sell Hofmann Forest in its entirety, such as conservation easements, timber deeds, partial land sales, or leases to the military or TIMOS/REITs, or simply retaining the Forest. Under SEPA, these alternatives should be fully examined for their economic, environmental, and social impacts. Furthermore, agency and public input should be sought and incorporated in a SEPA analysis before we decide the fate of this irreplaceable university educational asset.

NCSU spokespersons have stated that a sale will be a generate millions of dollars annually for students and faculty support. This presumes that we will get large returns from stock market investments, which is moot, or that we can spend the principal, which we should not. The Hofmann has generated about $2 million per year net to the College of Natural Resources. In FY 2012 undergraduate students received only about 6% of those funds for scholarships and other direct cash benefits, faculty less than 2%, and graduate student assistantships about 18%. The rest went to college and development office administrators and staff.

This high overhead ratio suggests that more money from a sale will not necessarily provide a windfall for students or faculty, but we would lose the Forest forever. We would be much better off with the substantial current Hofmann Forest revenues and keeping the Forest for its timeless educational, research, and demonstration values, even if we do seek some better ways to monetize its land value.

As a coalition of foresters, professors, students, alumni, local residents, environmentalists, and North Carolina citizens, we hope that the university will halt this sale of the state Hofmann Forest, comply with appropriate SEPA analysis and consultation requirements before a sale is even considered, and retain our ownership and pride in this world renowned university educational asset.

Details on the status of the sale and the legal challenge can be found on (1) the university web site, and on (2) a petition to stop the sale and a means to provide support, which are listed on the web addresses below.

(1) http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/hofmann-forest-sale/

(2) http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/cnr-alumni-against-the-sale-of-the-hofmann-forest/

We may be contacted at:

Fred Cubbage, fredcubbage@yahoo.com, (919) 630-8928

Ron Sutherland, ron@wildlandsnetwork.org (919) 641-0060

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NC State Approves Sale Of Hofmann Forest Near Jacksonville

According to WRAL and WITN this sale is a done deal.  Maybe not.  Is the sale in the best interest of the state, its citizens, and the environment?   We do not know because the studies that are usually required for such actions by state entities or involving state money have not been done.  Should they be done?

Hofmann Forest, Public or Private?

Is Hofmann Forest public or private?  Is the owner a state entity that must play by all the rules required of a state entity, or is the owner a private entity owing 80 years of back taxes to Onslow and Jones Counties?  Should the owner be allowed to pick and choose which set of rules apply depending upon what is favorable to them in any given situation?  Debate about whether the ownership of the Hofmann Forest is public or private seems moot given that the owner has not paid county  property taxes, claiming exemption as a state entity.

The North Carolina (or State) Environmental Policy Act of 1971 (SEPA)

If the Forest is public land, as it appears to be based on property taxation alone, it should be subject to The North Carolina (or State) Environmental Policy Act of 1971 (SEPA) (G.S. 113A, Article 1).  SEPA requires State agencies to review and report the environmental effects of all activities that involve an action by a State agency, an expenditure of public monies or private use of public land, and that may have a potential negative environmental effect on natural resources, public health and safety, natural beauty, or historical or cultural elements of the State.

Significant changes of land use on 80,000 acres, or even a much smaller percentage of the whole, could have significant impacts on the quantity and quality of water leaving the Forest.  The Forest drains to the New River, The Trent River (Neuse), and The White Oak River.  All of these watersheds are sensitive and  important.  The White Oak River was once nominated for designation as a  Wild and Scenic River.

Hofmann is a significant historical and cultural resource for the state.  It is unique as a research forest.  It is historically and culturally significant based on the time and means by which it was acquired.

Hofmann is also a connecting link in a much larger ecosystem.  Look at aerial photography of the area.  There are several large relatively undeveloped areas – Croatan-Hofmann-Camp Lejeune-Holly Shelter.  Each of these areas are have significant and important habitats and functions, but when linked, they create a system that is greater than the sum of its parts.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE CONSTITUTION

ARTICLE XIV MISCELLANEOUS, 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.

There is no doubt that Hofmann is scenic and that development or change of use could significantly increase pollution of air and water.  The possible region affected includes the coast from Topsail Island to Okracoke; the cities of Jacksonville, Swansboro, New Bern, Trenton, and Morehead City; the water bodies of  Bouge Sound, Pamlico Sound, and the previously mentioned rivers and watersheds.  This is simply based on the fact that water flows downhill and that there is a strong correlation between more intensive land use and degradation of water and air quality.

A Done Deal?

Maybe not.  One thing is clear, once the deal is done, there will be no going back.  There may be irreparable harm done to an entire region.  Harm that, if properly evaluated as would be required under SEPA, would likely demonstrate the $150 million price tag to be paltry sum and a huge net loss to the state as a whole.  If you are downstream of Hofmann Forest,  you will be on the receiving end of whatever leaves the Forest.  Do you know what that will mean for you?  Nobody knows for sure because the needed studies have not been done.  Qualitatively, it is obvious that if land use changes are made, there will be some effect.  If future  land use is more intense and developed, the effect will be negative.

Setting a Good Ethics Example?

Even if this sale were a good deal for NCSU, would it not be ethically wrong  for the university, or any of its foundations, boards, or associated entities, to proceed with the sale without full information on the immediate and cumulative impacts of the sale.   Is that the kind of example an institution of higher learning should set?

A Great Loss or a Great Example of Financial Wisdom?

Hofmann Forest is an irreplaceable asset with immense intrinsic  and intangible value  which may only fully be revealed in the future.   If the sale goes through, will history judge this sale as a great example of enlightened financial management by a public institution or will it be judged as one of the most profound blunders of an institution of higher learning and of a state government and political leaders that let it happen.

Unintended Consequence?

If the sale does go through, will it serve as a warning siren to those selfless individuals like Julius Valentine Hofmann, who worked to bring this prize to the university in the first place.  His legacy is being trampled and his vision ignored by the very institution he sought to enrich.  Will the sale engender confidence in the institution and make future selfless efforts by others more likely?

 

 

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