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NC State students protest Hofmann Forest sale

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TWC News: NC State students protest Hofmann Forest sale
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RALEIGH—A group of NC State students and faculty members continue to fight the sale of the Hofmann Forest. In October, the university sold the forest in an effort to generate more money for the school.

In front of an array of plants shaped in a dollar sign, students and faculty members gathered to protest the sale of the Hofmann Forest.

"We're not going away. No matter what tactics the chancellor pulls, we're going to be watching, and we're not going to stop until the sale of Hofmann is canceled," said NC State senior Caroline Hansley.

Marching across campus Friday the group is fighting for the nearly 79,000 acre forest in Jones and Onslow County to remain part of the university. NC State sold the forest earlier this year for $150 million to an agri-businessman in Illinois.

"The teaching has moved off the forest almost entirely. Ninety-eight percent of the sponsored research takes place off the forest now. And it's really used as a tree farm to generate income for the college of natural resources," said NC State Senior Communications Officer Brad Bohlander.

University officials say the sale would generate an average return of $6 million for the college compared to the $861,000 of income the forest generated last year. Members of the group are also trying to block the sale in court.

"We have a case that it's public land which N.C. State denies. We have a case that we have standing as foresters, conservationists, students, alumni, forestry board members that we have a right to sale," said NC State Forestry Professor Fred Cubbage.

Concern about future use of the land is also a major issue for the group. Some feel the buyer might try to develop the land for commercial use despite prior statements from the buyer stating otherwise.

"The endowment board really went out of their way to find a buyer who made a commitment to continue to use the land in the same means as it's been used," said Bohlander.

The sale won't be final for a few months which gives the group some time as they continue their initiative to keep the forest.

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