A forest's future

February 3, 2013 

Hofmann Forest, an “outdoor laboratory” for N.C. State University’s forestry program, is large enough, says one faculty member, to let students and faculty study forest management that includes “large-scale mathematical programs for forests around the world.” In addition, the forest in Jones and Onslow counties is the site of the headwaters of the White Oak, Trent and New rivers, providing a place for hydrological study as well. But the N.C. State Natural Resources Foundation has agreed to sell the forest.

No one questions the property’s value to the university, but advocates of the sale say the university has other forest locations that provide the needed “outdoor” classrooms. And besides, the $117 million that could be realized from the sale would provide investment income that would come in handy for the university.

The university should not sell without further study, contemplation and discussion. A tract of land this size is rare. Once it is sold, it’s gone forever. Balancing that sobering fact against the expected financial gain is a question that can’t be answered without due consideration – and then some more due consideration.

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