North Carolina spends lots of money on signs. They are everywhere, along our roads, on river and stream banks, in coastal waters, and on beaches. The signs may be informational, educational, or regulatory, but they are all there ostensibly for our benefit as citizens. Signs for the benefit of citizens – good, right? More, better? Not so fast! After the sale of Hofmann Forest, we’ll get a whole new crop of signs that will say one thing, but will be symbolic of something else entirely.
NCSU, a public University, is selling Hofmann Forest, public land, to private entities, with no significant long-term restrictions against development. On the other hand, we have the significant positive accomplishments of other North Carolina government entities working to protect and preserve sources for future drinking water supplies and to reduce the extent of surface water quality impairment.
It is well known that development, including agriculture, is the main source of water quality degradation and resulting impaired surface waters. Research and conclusions on this subject, much conducted at NCSU, are abundant and clear. Across a wide spectrum of North Carolina government, this simple, but true, educational message is repeated again, and again. You cannot escape North Carolina’s watershed-awareness and impact-of-development messages as you go about your life in this state. You find them as you visit our state’s websites, schools, museums, aquariums, estuarium, parks, and even when you drive on our highways! Ever see an “Entering Neuse Basin” sign? Those signs, and the worthy efforts of which they are symbolic, are your tax dollars at work!
NCSU Officials, the NCSU Endowment Fund Board, and Attorney General Roy Copper, who are promoting and facilitating the sale of Hofmann Forest, must have missed all of the NCSU subject matter research and North Carolina’s extensive and well-intentioned watershed-awareness and impact-of-development messages. How else could they be promoting and facilitating the sale of Hofmann Forest, with no significant long-term restrictions against development? Hofmann Forest is a significant percentage of the undeveloped land in three already impaired river basins of this state.
Maybe dysfunctional state government just likes signs. By selling Hofmann Forest, North Carolina will almost certainly get more opportunities to put up closed shellfish waters and swimming advisory signs! How do I know? The state says so, again, and again, and again. I didn’t even have to come up with that one myself!
By the way, those swimming advisory and closed shellfish waters signs, and the worthy efforts of which they are symbolic, are your tax dollars at work, too!
See, we really can pay for it both ways! After the destruction of Hofmann Forest at the hands of the state, we’ll get a whole new crop of signs. All these signs, especially the new ones, will become symbolic of the North Carolina’s worthy efforts to protect us from the consequences of the North Carolina’s, not so worthy, sale of Hofmann Forest! The signs will cease to have any real meaning related to their words. Instead, they will just be symbolic of dysfunctional state government.