EPA, NC State Reach Agreement on Hofmann Forest Operations

For the last three years, the College of Natural Resources, the NC State Natural Resources Foundation, and the Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University have worked to establish a plan for Hofmann Forest that will allow for sustainable land use while maximizing income to support the academic programs, research efforts and scholarship needs within our college.

We are pleased to report that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded its administrative review of Hofmann Forest operations and as a result, the EPA, the NC State Natural Resources Foundation, and the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of North Carolina State University have entered into a settlement agreement.

As a part of the settlement, the Foundation, as manager of forest operations on the property, agrees to plug ditches to restore natural water flow on 120 acres of the 79,000-acre working forest, and to update and enhance the water management plan for the property to ensure consistency with the silvicultural exemption of the Clean Water Act.

“The Foundation, Endowment Fund, and university are pleased to have reached this agreement and appreciate EPA’s expeditious review and willingness to enter into this settlement,” said Mary Watzin, Dean of the College of Natural Resources. “We look forward to moving ahead with plans to maximize benefits from the property for our academic programs while continuing to protect the majority of the 79,000-acre forest from intensive development.”

On 120 acres, forest managers have begun to plug 10 ditches to allow natural water flow to restore forested wetlands. While the Foundation may continue to grow and harvest trees on this section of the property, it may not use machinery to plant trees in these areas. This work will be completed within six months.

The updated water management plan enhances water management practices already in place on the forest by installing a series of additional water control structures and ditch plugs across portions of the forest north of Highway 17. The goal of this enhanced plan is to keep the forest as wet as possible except when harvesting, thinning and planting operations require lower water levels. The Foundation will install the new structures within one year and document that they are working as planned.

The Foundation and Endowment Fund’s plans for Hofmann Forest include maximizing the land as a natural resource and long-term financial asset for the benefit of academic programs in the College of Natural Resources, while protecting the majority of the 79,000-acre forest from intensive development.

Funds generated through forest activities will go to strengthen research and academic offerings within the College of Natural Resources by providing additional scholarships, funding new experiential education opportunities for students, facilitating interdisciplinary research and supporting new professorships.