80K Acres In Jones, Onslow Counties Could Be Sold To Illinois Company

After protests and court battles, a grassroots effort is pushing to stop the sale of the Hofmann Forest in Jones and Onslow counties.

North Carolina State manages the land, which has been preserved for wildlife and research.

A 1980's letter is the latest piece of information a group of conservationists has put out to say the land should not be for sale.

It's a letter from the then-Attorney General saying the land is public.

The "Save Hofmann Forest" group says the university is going against that, trying to sell it as private land to a private developer.

The Hofmann Forest, about 80,000 acres in Jones and Onslow counties, is named for Julius "Doc" Hofmann. In 1929, Hofmann was hired to set up the Forestry Program at North Carolina State University.

It was given to the University's Endowment Fund in the 1970's to aid the College of Natural Resources.

In October, the Endowment Board announced a $150 million deal to sell the land to Hofmann Forest LLC, an Illinois company operating large farms in several states.

A farmer with land near the forest sued to stop the sale. After seeing plans by Hoffman Forest LLC, the farmer says he's concerned of possible residential, commercial, and agricultural use.

It's unclear when the sale will be final.

A NC State University spokesman says no closing date has been set.