In the NWQEP NOTES, The NCSU Water Quality Group Newsletter, Number 138 August 2013 ISSN 1062-9149, one recommendation is outstanding:
…The State water quality agency should consider
encouraging the state, local agencies, or land trusts to
purchase riparian properties in cases where watershed
cleanup efforts have failed to be achieved or failed to be
lasting. Environmental agencies should review their
programs for conflicting mandates and implementations.
Specific roles, reporting requirements, and priorities should
We couldn’t agree more! Granted, the above recommendation has a much narrower contextual focus than presented by the prospective sale of Hofmann Forest, but it is alarmingly apropos to the apparent divergent goals and implementations highlighted by this sale of public land by NCSU and concurrent efforts within NCSU and other state agencies.
Will the NC supreme Court find that North Carolina’s various agencies and programs have conflicting goals (broader than mandates) and implementations with regard to the sale of Hofmann Forest? Will they find the sale of Hofmann Forest consistent with the intent of the NC Constitution, the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), and UNC System Policy?
Does the apparent internal inconsistency of NCSU rushing to the sale, while simultaneously promoting vastly disparate public policy, reflect a lack of cogent leadership within the University? Is the sale of Hofmann Forest representative of a broader inconsistency within state government that only action by the NC Supreme Court or legislation could remedy?
From N.C. Court of Appeals
( 14-311 )
( 13CVS12884 )
10 October 2014
N.C. Supreme Court
RE: Cubbage, et al v The Board of Trustees Of The Endowment Fund Of NC State University, et al – 380A14-1
The following Order was entered:
Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 7A-31(a) and (b)(2) and Rule 15(e)(2) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate
Procedure, the Court on its own initiative hereby certifies for review prior to determination in the Court of Appeals
Cubbage, et al. v. Bd. of Tr. of N.C. State Univ. Endowment Fund, et al, COA14-311. The case shall be docketed
in this Court as of the date of this order. Briefs of the respective parties that have been submitted to the Court
of Appeals shall be considered by this Court. Any party may file a new brief in this Court consistent with the
North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Cubbage v. N.C. State University Endowment Fund: This case concerns the pending sale of the Hofmann State Forest by the N.C. State Endowment Fund, which plaintiffs say was negotiated in secret and failed to comply with the N.C. Environmental Policy Act because the fund never obtained an Environmental Impact Statement. Wake County Superior Court Judge Shannon Joseph dismissed the case last November.
SUPREME COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA
Cubbage, et al v The Board of Trustees Of The Endowment Fund Of NC State University, et al
FREDERICK W. CUBBAGE, RONALD W. SUTHERLAND, PHD, RICHARD BARNY BERNARD, JR., JAMES D. GREGORY, and
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ENDOWMENT FUND OF NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY AT RALEIGH and
NC STATE NATURAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION, INC.
1 – CT_ORDER (Spec Order) – 10-09-2014
Filed: 10-10-2014 @ 12:06:23
BY : N.C. Supreme Court
Party Name; Role
Cubbage, Frederick W.; Plaintiff-Appellant
Sutherland, Ronald W. (PhD); Plaintiff-Appellant
Bernard, Richard (Jr.) (Barny); Plaintiff-Appellant
Gregory, James D.; Plaintiff-Appellant
Eddy, John; Plaintiff-Appellant
The Board of Trustees Of The Endowment Fund Of North Carolina State University At Raleigh; Defendant-Appellee
NC State Natural Resources Foundation, Inc.; Defendant-Appellee
Cubbage, Frederick W., et al; Appellant
Attorney for Appellant – Cubbage, Frederick W., et al
Mr. James L. Conner, II [Primary Attorney]
Attorney at Law
Ms. Amie C. Sivon
Attorney at Law
RAGSDALE LIGGETT PLLC
P.O. Box 31507
Raleigh, NC 27622
Attorney for Defendant-Appellee – The Board of Trustees Of The Endowment Fund Of North Carolina State University At Raleigh
Ms. Katherine A. Murphy [Primary Attorney]
Assistant Attorney General
Ms. Catherine F. Jordan
Assistant Attorney General
N.C. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
P.O. Box 629
Raleigh, NC 27602
Attorney for Defendant-Appellee – NC State Natural Resources Foundation, Inc.
Mr. Paul T. Flick [Primary Attorney]
Attorney at Law
Ms. Lori P. Jones
Attorney at Law
JORDAN PRICE WALL GRAY JONES & CARLTON
P.O. Box 10669
Raleigh, NC 27605
N.C. State University has retooled its controversial plan to sell the massive Hofmann Forest near Jacksonville. It now will sell nearly all of the timberland to an investment company that specializes in sustainable timber management.
Is this a victory? Not for the Forest, yet!
This change is obviously in response to our efforts, those of my co-plaintiffs and myself, along with many, many others. We should all be celebrating this change, of course, but what should be celebrating is that we caused the change! We shouldn’t stop now. We have the momentum to make this change complete.
We should ramp up our efforts to stop this sale because we have seen that we can make a difference! There are still 23,000 acres that are not included in this change, many of which could still be converted to agricultural, residential, and commercial development. There are no permanent protections on the remaining acreage, though for at least some time, it appears some would be managed as timberland through a Timber Investment Management Organization. However, this still divides Hofmann Forest, removes it from public ownership, breaks the chain in the overall larger ecosystem of which Hofmann Forest is a part, and is contrary to the intent of the State Constitution, the NC Environmental Policy Act (commonly known as SEPA), and the UNC System Policy, put in place to ensure compliance with SEPA. This does not stop our appeal opposing the sale.
One could see this as a cynical effort on behalf of the University to placate the rising opposition to this unjust sale, to deflect scrutiny of their past actions, and to deflate the mounting public outcry in opposition to the sale. I encourage everyone who has opposed this sale to not let this be the final disposition of Hofmann Forest! We have the momentum for attaining real change and we should not let this distraction lessen our resolve, but rather let it give us the strength to redouble our efforts!
Hofmann Forest should be retained as one contiguous tract of public land, accessible to all. Continued use by the military for training and NCSU for forestry research should be assured, but it should be transferred to a governmental entity that has habitat preservation and environmental management among that entity’s primary missions. We should not stop fighting this sale until Hofmann Forest is preserved in a way that it can never again be at risk of being sold, divided, diminished, or restricted from use by the general public! Anything less risks loss of one of the region’s most important future drinking water supplies, loss of habitat of a critically important value, continued impairment of fresh and estuarine water quality, and diminished function of critical estuarine nursery areas.
North Carolina has done a great job of educating the public about water quality issues, implementing rules for water quality protection, and improving already impaired waters. Why does it make sense for one entity within North Carolina, the leading conservation and environmental research University in the State, which has contributed academic research and direct support to these great efforts, on the one hand, to turn around and with the other hand, enable possibly the worst conceivable harm to regional water quality and future drinking water supplies for an entire region? Selling all or even part of Hofmann Forest for development makes a mockery of the great accomplishments of this State in water quality improvements and protections. If this sale goes through, the University will have lost credibility in a most profoundly blunderous way, by not practicing what it is teaching, studying, and promoting.
As a signatory to the newly formed NC Source Water Collaborative, NCSU Officials should know better, be ashamed for their efforts to sell Hofmann Forest, and should lead by example, immediately nullifying this sale and moving to conserve Hofmann Forest for all its public benefits!