RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Two federal agencies are investigating whether managers at North Carolina State University’s massive Hofmann Forest illegally drained wetlands.
The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are looking into the allegations, The News & Observer of Raleigh (https://bit.ly/1ksbl4x) reported.
Mickey Sugg with the corps in Wilmington says his agency has reviewed extensive ditch draining in the forest near Jacksonville. Sugg says some of the work appears to be illegal and the Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the case to determine if the work is covered by an exemption that allows some drainage work for tree farming.
A North Carolina State foundation is working to sell the 79,000 acre forest to an Illinois company. A small group of environmentalists and foresters are trying to block the $150 million sale in court.
University spokesman Brad Bohlander says the school and the foundation are cooperating with the corps.
“The Foundation has always strived to conduct its forest management operations in accordance with the Clean Water Act and has carefully adhered to the North Carolina Forestry Best Management Practices as originally drafted and adopted in collaboration with the Corps of Engineers,” Bohlander wrote in an email.
The forest in Jones and Onslow counties is named for Julius “Doc” Hofmann, the founder of NC State’s forestry program.
University officials said they decided to sell the forest in part because they need money and also because North Carolina State’s field research for forestry is now mainly done elsewhere.
Information from: The News & Observer, https://www.newsobserver.com
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