Hofmann’s Future is Region’s Future

In response to “Hofmann’s future is White Oak’s future,”  Tideland News (Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 7:08 am | Updated: 10:18 am, Fri Aug 29, 2014):

The White Oak River is the poster child for the regional impacts that will be felt if the Sale of Hofmann Forest is consummated. Regionally, all coastal waters and communities downstream of Hofmann Forest would directly feel the impact of the proposed land use changes outlined in the Prospectus. This includes the New River, the White Oak River, the Trent River, the Neuse River, the estuarine systems of all these rivers, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Topsail Island, Bear Island, Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Shackleford Banks, Portsmouth Island, Ocracoke Island, Jacksonville, Sneads Ferry, Camp Lejeune, New Bern, Swansboro, Oriental, the Atlantic Ocean, and beyond.

Development of the Forest itself will be felt regionally, but there will be secondary impacts on lands and waters surrounding the Forest that will extend well beyond the Forest. Development pressure on adjacent land will increase, compounding the negative impact of development within Hofmann Forest itself. North Carolina will also lose a significant historical, cultural, and natural resource.
Hofmann Forest is unique and extremely valuable as a research forest. It is also a connecting link in a much larger ecosystem chain comprised of Croatan National Forest, Hofmann Forest, Camp Lejeune, and Holly Shelter Game Lands. When linked, they create an ecosystem that is greater than the sum of its parts. Many species depend on this large, regional ecosystem. Loss of Hofmann Forest will break this link and diminish the synergistic habitat value of all of these public lands.

Beyond the Forest, the increased quantity of polluted stormwater runoff will have the most obvious and immediate impact on the region. In 2007, the White Oak River Basinwide Water Quality Plan stated that 100 percent of the saltwater miles and 44 percent of the freshwater miles of the White Oak River are impaired. The main reason for the impairment – stormwater runoff from agriculture and development. The New River and Neuse River are also impaired and for the same reasons. Manifestations of these water quality issues are fish kills, reduced recreational and commercial catches, closed shellfish waters, and waters closed to swimming.

The are other less obvious and immediate impacts and costs associated with the loss of Hofmann Forest. Regional availability of drinking water and the quality of that water will be diminished. Due to salt water intrusion into high quality Cretaceous aquifers from over use, the near-surface aquifer system is increasingly being tapped for public water supplies. Water from the near-surface aquifer system already requires more treatment than that drawn from Cretaceous aquifers. Hofmann Forest is the source of much of the region’s near-surface groundwater. If this huge area is converted to agriculture, residential and commercial development, and other uses, as outlined in the Prospectus, more rainfall will be converted to runoff instead of being available for infiltration. This will reduce the near-surface aquifer system recharge rate, reducing the water available for sustainable use. Rainfall runoff and infiltrating rainfall both carry all of the agricultural and landscaping chemicals and fertilizers, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants associated with such development. Increased rainfall runoff results in surface water quality impairment, but what happens to the infiltrated water and pollutants carried by it?

Some infiltrating pollutants will be filtered by soil or treated by biological processes in soil. Those pollutants that are not filtered or treated by soil will end up in the near-surface aquifer system. It is well established that there is connectivity between surface waters and the near-surface aquifer system in the region (CDC Study of Contaminated Wells at Camp Lejeune).

Development will necessarily create a huge increase in water demand with a commensurate increase in sewage discharge. Taxpayers will have to foot the bill for developing and treating the increasingly polluted water of the near-surface aquifer system. Taxpayers will also have to pay for sewage treatment and disposal for the sewage generated by that development. Of course, not all sewage will be treated by municipal systems. A large percentage, if not the majority, of sewage generated will be leached, via private septic systems, into the same near-surface aquifer system from which regional drinking water will be increasingly drawn.

The sale of Hofmann Forest should be stopped because it is wrong on many fronts. It it bad public policy (not transparent and stakeholders given no real voice), it makes a mockery of North Carolina’s substantial and successful efforts to protect water quality through multiple state agencies and public campaigns (ever seen an “Entering X Basin sign?), it contravenes the intent of the North Carolina Constitution, it is being conducted in a manner inconsistent with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the UNC System Policy created for compliance with SEPA, and, above all else, it is not what the citizens of North Carolina want!

Setting all that aside, the sale should be stopped on the basis of the following known negative regional impacts alone. Development as presented in the Prospectus will cause:
- An increase in the area of Impaired Surface Waters in three basins
- A decrease of critical habitat area and a reduction of the value of remaining habitat areas
- A decrease in recreational and commercial catches
- An increase in closed shellfish waters
- More frequent closures of waters for swimming
- A lower sustainable withdrawal rate from the near-surface aquifer system
- A decrease in groundwater quality in the near-surface aquifer system
- Higher taxes and/or higher cost of services for water and sewer

Please join in the public outcry against this sale! This is your backyard after all!

NCSU officials need to hear from you if you think this sale is just plain wrong and they should be ashamed for violating the genius of Julius Hofmann when he worked to establish Hofmann Forest. They also need to hear from you if you think they should practice what they preach — ethics, sustainability, and conservation.

Attorney General Roy Cooper needs to hear from you if think that spending your tax dollars defending the sale is wrong when it is going to do you direct harm.  Also, Roy Cooper needs to hear from you if you don’t think it is OK for NCSU to claim the Forest is public to avoid paying property taxes and then turn around and claim it is private when conducting the sale. If it is private, shouldn’t they have paid property taxes just like you and I?

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News About Monday’s Protests

Here are links to the media stories that were generated so far by our Monday protests:

http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/272542101.html
http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/tideland_news/news/article_947eecfa-2dec-11e4-bc51-001a4bcf887a.html
http://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2014/08/26/new-semester-at-nc-state-begins-with-hofmann-forest-protest
http://www.jdnews.com/news/local/protest-draws-crowd-1.363766?page=0
http://www.technicianonline.com/news/article_a2c592c0-2cd7-11e4-9245-001a4bcf6878.html
http://www.wcti12.com/news/protesters-rally-to-oppose-sale-of-hofmann-forest/27723558
http://charlotte.twcnews.com/content/711113/protesters-rally-against-sale-of-hofmann-forest/

Thanks to everyone who showed up!

Protesters Rally Against Sale of Hofmann Forest – Time Warner Cable News

“We are such a special place, we do not need to be selling off 79,000 acres, for pittance,” said Jessica Hult, president of the Izaak Walton League.

via Protesters Rally Against Sale of Hofmann Forest – Time Warner Cable News.

Protests planned to stop sale of Hofmann Forest – Local – Sun Journal

Protests planned to stop sale of Hofmann Forest – Local – Sun Journal.

From Ron Sutherland:

If you live anywhere near Raleigh or Jacksonville, NC, can you please show up for one of our Hofmann Forest protests tomorrow, even if you can only stay for 20 minutes? (See below for what you can do if you don’t live nearby or if you really can’t make it because, let’s say, you’re a public school teacher and Monday’s the first day of school)

Top 12 Reasons why you should attend our protests on Monday to Save Hofmann Forest:

1. “Emerald Isle” sounds so much better than “Mud Beach” or “Pesticide Point.”
2. Hofmann Forest needs us to rally together NOW and show everyone that many people care about saving this huge tract of public land – before the sale closes (September 23rd?) and its too late!
3. Because it will be really fun and you won’t get arrested, and it will make you feel good deep inside to actually be doing something positive for the world
4. Help us stick it to the man!
5. Losing Hofmann would split asunder a broad network of 500,000+ acres of wildlife habitat across the Onslow Bight region, from Croatan National Forest to Holly Shelter Gamelands.
6. the White Oak River is a beautiful paddling stream, let’s keep it that way!
7. A forestry program needs a big forest like a medical school needs a hospital, as noted by Doc Hofmann when he bought the land in 1934 (Same could be said for wildlife management, outdoor recreation, conservation biology, restoration ecology, and other relevant disciplines at NCSU)
8. Jacksonville needs to keep its tremendous wooded backyard – and the public across North Carolina needs to be able to access this huge forest that we own.
9. Because lying about working forest easements is really uncool – so NCSU leaders need to keep their word and not sell the forest unless it is fully protected.
10. As Professor Fred Cubbage likes to say, its time for the College of Natural Resources to practice what they teach – forest conservation isn’t just for textbooks.
11. Because if we don’t make a stand for the largest tract of state-owned forest in North Carolina – what will they sell next?

12. We’ll have 100 new Save Hofmann Forest yard signs to give away at both locations to the people that show up for the protest!

Please come to the protests, even if it is more than a bit inconvenient. The weather forecast looks great!
Write a note to yourself to attend, and then help us find more people by sharing these links:

If you’re in the Triangle, RSVP and join us in the brickyard at NC State here: https://www.facebook.com/events/328975153930002/?ref=22

If you’re near Hofmann Forest, RSVP to join folks here: https://www.facebook.com/events/699301226790207/?ref=22

If you really can’t make the protest, here’s what you can do:
1. sign up to participate in our Thunderclap social media outburst that will take place on Monday during the protest (you can sign up now and it will run automatically):
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/15331-save-hofmann-forest?locale=en
2. persuasively invite your friends and family to attend the protest – they will have a great time! Use the links above.
3. share the petition link far and wide, to help us hit 10,000 signatures by tomorrow (we’re at 9720 right now!):
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-hofmann-forest-from?source=c.fwd&r_by=10925835

Thank you so much for everything you have done for Hofmann Forest, whether you just signed the petition yesterday, or if you’ve been fighting the sale since January 2013 (or before!). Please keep doing what you can to help out, and I know we will prevail in the end!

For the forest, and see you tomorrow,

Ron Sutherland, Ph.D.
NCSU Biology ’99
Conservation Scientist
Wildlands Network
ron@wildlandsnetwork.org

Please Sign Our New Petition – Save Hofmann Forest!

The petition says:

NC State University should not sell Hofmann Forest a 79,000-acre tract of public land in coastal North Carolina to a private businessman to be bulldozed into cornfields and golf courses. Hofmann Forest should be permanently protected from development, and opened back up for the public to enjoy.

MoveOn Civic Action does not necessarily endorse the contents of petitions posted on this site. MoveOn Petitions is an open tool that anyone can use to post a petition advocating any point of view, so long as the petition does not violate their terms.

via MoveOn Petitions – Save Hofmann Forest from being destroyed.

Thanks,

John

Clean and Clear Waterways for All!